Coinbase Voices is a collection of staff stories that showcase the skills of our Coinbase team and share their journey in crypto. In this post, Senior Counsel Georgie Harris discusses his journey to Coinbase (and how he learned that Fiat is not just an Italian car company).
Tell us about the journey of becoming a lawyer in England? What does your work actually mean?
People become lawyers all the way, and it depends on the country where they are going to work (different countries have different routes, although it is quite a long road almost everywhere!).
In England, where I am qualified to practice law as a solicitor, it usually involves pursuing a law degree at a university, or another non-law degree, and taking a “transformation” course after university. I then did a year in law school before starting a “training contract” at a law firm. It involves working 6 months in 4 different departments to gain experience in some different fields, at the end of which I become qualified! I have been working in the law firm for several years after qualifying before joining Coinbase.
At Coinbase, I am a senior counselor for the international legal team. The team is responsible for ensuring that Coinbase’s activities outside the United States are fully applicable to law and all regulatory requirements (there is also a U.S. legal team that covers our U.S. activities). I like it because I can deal with a wide variety of issues across many countries – any day I can look at our banking partner relationship in the UK, work on adding a new entity to APAC and find out what’s new regulator in Canada Development means for Coinbase.
What do you want to know before joining Coinbase?
I was hoping for so many new people here for the crypto industry. Of course, we have many incredible crypto natives who know this place as well as others in the world, but there are many of us who probably started the interview process thinking “Fiat” is a car manufacturer.
I hope I didn’t worry so much that I stayed at the bottom of the class – everyone is really happy to share knowledge and everyone is at a different stage in their crypto journey.
How would you describe your first three months? What was the hardest lesson learned?
My first three months were a bit of a whirlwind, not just because I joined Kovid-1 of just a month before I started working from home. One of the hardest lessons was that I should still appreciate office breakfast while I was still there!
With the removal of Kovid, the first three months had a very steep learning curve because I had never worked “in-house” before (as in a company, but rather in a law firm To advise Company) and because I had no background in crypto. The thing that saved me was how incredibly helpful my team and the larger office in London were. Everyone here is so generous with their time and you’re happy to throw a meeting in their diary, so you can be sure you understand exactly what it’s doing – even if you don’t work with them directly. I like the “happy to help as much as I can” attitude.
What makes you want to work at Coinbase?
I really like working in a law firm and advising lots of clients in different industries, but after a while I realized that I was helping to create things instead of making something else (my client) myself. I was a corporate lawyer, working mostly on mergers / acquisitions and investments, and often we were brought to the end of a long process where 90% of the journey was completed. I wanted to work at a company where I could help get involved from the beginning.
A former colleague introduced me to Coinbase and the more I learned about the company, the more I loved it. As I say, I wanted to help Construction Something, and helping to create a new financial system for the world is just as exciting!
The very early stages of crypto regulation also really interested me as a lawyer – Coinbase (as a well-known and trusted brand in space) may often be one of the first or foremost firms involved with regulators looking at crypto. As a result, we are in a pretty unique position to control the future in crypto space, which I think is incredible. Lawyers aren’t known to get excited, but it certainly got me ahead!
What motivates you to log in every day?
The team I work with gets me out in the morning. The international legal team is still fairly small and everyone is incredibly collaborative in the way we deal with new problems and get the job done. We have a team check-in every day সকাল morning for the UK, late afternoon for our team members in Singapore যেখানে where we can puzzle through mental problems. We’ve been able to maintain that “let me take this idea away from you” feels like you come to an office, even though we’re all remote.
What’s the best thing about Remote-First?
I like flexibility – it’s about making sure employees have the choice of what works best for them. That can be in the office all the time, always at home, it can be a hybrid. Where and when you are best suited for you, you can work and if you don’t go to the office 5 days a week you don’t feel like you’re missing anything.
For me, this flexibility means I can go to the gym in the middle of the day, before the afternoon call with the United States begins. Or if I can work from a friend’s house if I go on weekends so I can extend my stay. Honestly, I like to stay in bed extra 30 minutes in the morning!
What can you tell us about you that we don’t know from your LinkedIn?
I used to play the flute (I still have it, but I feel pretty rusty and it feels antisocial to play when I’m in the flat and have lots of neighbors!). I had an orchestra and a trio group; Three were called Flute salad (I’m afraid I can’t take credit for thinking the name).
Coinbase Voices: How to Become an International Crypto Lawyer was originally published in the medium on the Coinbase blog, where people continue the conversation by highlighting and responding to the story.