How Coinbase's Legal Team Expanded at 'Crypto Speed,' Navigated Public Debut

Fenwick corporate partner Mark Stevens spoke to Corporate Counsel about the firm’s role as primary outside counsel to Coinbase, including helping the crypto company navigate a host of tricky issues, from government regulations and corporate structuring to the company’s pioneering direct listing on the Nasdaq Global Select Market.

Fenwick initially stood out in part to Coinbase because of Stevens’ unique background and work ethic. Earlier in his career, Stevens stepped away from practicing law to serve as an executive for Excite and as Electronic Arts’ former vice president of legal, mergers and acquisitions.

“Mark Stevens, in particular, just had a business pragmatism and a clear communication style that clicked [with Coinbase’s team],” said Juan Suarez, vice president and deputy general counsel of enterprise at Coinbase.

“Years go by at crypto speed when you’re working with Coinbase,” Stevens told Corporate Counsel. “Coinbase is a unique company. They’re a very substantial, sophisticated company in a regulated, fast-growing industry.”

“I tend to not approach things first from the legal seat. I’ve lived inside of companies and know what it’s like to be in the center of the storm. Outside counsel can make that a lot easier, or we can be one more friction point,” Stevens continued.

Fenwick and Coinbase also clicked because they’re “culturally aligned,” according to Doug Sharp, an associate general counsel at Coinbase and formerly a corporate associate at Fenwick.

Fenwick has served as primary outside counsel to Coinbase for many years, representing the company in more than 15 transactions, including its Nasdaq direct listing, strategic acquisitions of Bison Trails,, Tagomi and skew, its $100 million Series D and $300 million Series E financings and more than 70 investments by Coinbase Ventures.

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