O’Melveny’s Fintech Group Leader Joins Paul Hastings

Paul Hastings is expanding its fintech and capital markets practice, adding San Francisco-based Eric Sibbitt, the chair of O’Melveny’s financial technology industry group.

Sibbitt, who joined O’Melveny in 2005 from Sullivan & Cromwell, advises issuers and underwriters on initial public offerings and other equity and debt capital-raising transactions and works with clients on SEC and corporate governance matters.

Over the course of his career, he has worked with clients on numerous high-profile transactions in the blockchain and crypto space, including advising cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex and the underwriters on LendingClub Corp’s $1 billion IPO. He also advisedon the formation of the Crypto Rating Counsel, an association of leading companies within the blockchain arena.

Big Law firms have increasingly added fintech partners in recent years, and lately lawyers with crypto and blockchain expertise specifically have become particularly sought after as these markets see more new entrants.

Given his work in blockchain, cryptocurrency, and capital markets, Sibbitt will lead the firm’s continued growth in those areas, said Paul Hastings chair Seth Zachary in a statement.

“As blockchain and cryptocurrency become more and more mainstream, companies in this innovative space are seeking top legal counsel to help them navigate their convergence with more traditional financial institutions and Main Street companies,” Zachary added.

Sibbitt said in an interview with Bloomberg Law there’s a real opportunity to help clients with a previously “more esoteric technology” like blockchain that has now made more inroads on Wall Street and Main Street. He said one of his goals in his move to Paul Hastings is to help clients with both important transactions and the evolving regulatory aspects of financial technologies.

“It is one of these areas where you take old regulations and new technologies and it raises new questions about how those regulations and law should apply,” Sibbitt said.

This, in turn, creates opportunities within a law firm, he said.

“Fintech has increasingly become an engine for driving opportunities across most of the practice areas of large law firms, precisely because it does present novel legal questions,” Sibbitt said. “It’s not an isolated practice.”

Sibbitt is not the first corporate partner to join Paul Hastings from O’Melveny recently. In April, Paul Hastings picked up mergers and acquisitions and entertainment and media transactional partner Sean Monroe from O’Melveny in Century City. The firm also picked up litigator James Bo Pearl last summer.

Sibbitt’s move was brokered by Sabina Lippman, partner and co-founder of global legal recruitment firm Lippman Jungers Bala.

As for O’Melveny, the firm announced on Monday the addition of technology partners Adit Khorana from Cooley in Silicon Valley and Daniel Wu from Fox Rothschild in Century City and Los Angeles. The firm also announced earlier this month that it was expanding into Texas, opening an office in Austin with four lawyers from Thompson & Knight.