News and Information
March 25, 2022

Virginia State Bar Seeks Comment on Cryptocurrency Ethics

The Virginia State Bar’s Standing Committee on Legal Ethics is seeking public comment on proposed advisory Legal Ethics Opinion 1898 – Cryptocurrency.

The proposed opinion provides guidance on some of the technical issues surrounding cryptocurrency and what it means to act competently to safeguard the cryptocurrency.

This proposed opinion concludes that a lawyer may accept client property, including cryptocurrency, offered as an advance payment for the lawyer’s services, provided the lawyer’s fee is reasonable under Rule 1.5, and this business transaction with the client meets the requirements of Rule 1.8(a), namely, that:

  • the transaction is fair and reasonable to the client,
  • the transaction and terms are fully disclosed in writing in a manner the client understands,
  • the client is advised of the opportunity to consult with independent counsel, and
  • the client’s consent is confirmed in writing.

When cryptocurrency is being held by the lawyer as an advance fee, the requirements of Rule 1.15 regarding safekeeping client property apply, and require that the lawyer take reasonable steps to secure the client’s property against loss, theft, damage or destruction.  

The complete LEO 1898 may be read here.

Comment

Questions on the proposed opinion may be directed to the Office of Ethics Counsel at 804-775-0557.

Any individual, business, or other entity may file or submit written comments in support of or in opposition to the proposed opinion with Karen A. Gould, executive director of the Virginia State Bar, not later than May 4, 2022. Comments may be submitted via email to publiccomment@vsb.org.

Updated: Mar 25, 2022