Wayne Law alumna is helping to change the world of finance

Pamela Morgan is one of the world’s foremost attorneys in the emergent field of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and thePamela Morgan blockchain technology that publicly tracks every exchange of digital money.

Her expertise didn’t come about by accident.

The 2006 alumna of Wayne State University Law School was speaking at a conference, “Disrupt, Startup, Scaleup,” in Greece in late 2013. Until then, her legal practice was focused on advising small businesses, and she also taught business law and entrepreneurship. At the conference, tech-entrepreneur Andreas M. Antonopoulos spoke about bitcoin.

“During the talk, I remember thinking, ‘If half of what this guy is saying is true, this technology might actually change the world!’ Yes, I’m one of those people who wants to change the world. It’s one of the reasons I went to law school.”

Morgan, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Davenport University with a concentration in computer programming, began to teach herself about digital currencies.

“I studied bitcoin like I was studying for the bar exam,” she said. “For the next two months, I spent all of my free time devouring everything I could find about the technology and its implications for law and society. In early 2014, I left my full-time, salaried position in education to build a career in this industry. Though at the time it was scary, I’ve never regretted that decision. In fact, it’s been one of the best choices I’ve made, both in terms of quality of work and quality of life.”

7 Questions with Pamela Morgan

Morgan, who has been a solo practitioner since 2006, founded Empowered Law PLLC in the Chicago area in 2014, and continues her work there. In 2015, she founded Third Key Solutions LLC — “a boutique key consulting and management firm.”

Third Key works with companies involved with digital currencies. Morgan is its CEO. She’s also a board member and director of education with the CryptoCurrency Certification Consortium, a nonprofit industry standards group; and an unpaid advisor to the BitGive Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to “leverage the power of bitcoin and blockchain technology to improve public health and the environment worldwide.”

Third Key is highly selective when it comes to accepting clients and projects.

“I’m in the fortunate position of turning away work on a daily basis,” Morgan said. “I simply cannot keep up with demand, which affords me the luxury of being highly selective. The decision of who I work with is completely subjective. I’m looking for a good fit on both sides in terms of needs, skills, personalities, communication style and values. Additionally, when I’m interviewing organizational clients, they must demonstrate that they are driven by more than profits and that they have developed some method of giving back to the community.”

What’s the advantage of bitcoin over more conventional currency that so inspires Morgan and a rapidly growing number of others?

“Here’s an example of how we are using this technology to solve a real world problem — disappearing funds in charitable organizations,” Morgan said. “Our current system regulates banking and charities fairly robustly, and yet we know that money somehow seems to disappear from charity coffers, especially when it moves between organizations or across borders.”

She spoke of the BitGive Foundation and its project, GiveTrack, as an example of solving that problem with cryptocurrency and blockchain tracking.

“The concept is simple,” Morgan said. “Since all transactions on the bitcoin blockchain are public, we can create software to track them. If we use bitcoin to transfer funds from a known entity, like BitGive in the U.S., to a known entity that happens to be across a border, like The Water Project in Kenya, the entire world can literally watch the funds move across borders in real-time, with no possibility of lost funds, skimming or bribery. We can see when the Water Project spends the funds they’ve received.

“No auditors required. No regulators or special laws required. This is an example of how we can use this technology to prevent bad actors from intervening, instead of trying to discover the crime and chase down the criminal after they’ve skimmed the funds. Now imagine how that kind of radical transparency can change the world of charitable giving!”

Bitcoin's blockchain technology — a synchronized ledger database whose data is independently validated, distributed and shared throughout the network — has only existed since late 2008. And it’s rapidly evolving.

“One day in this industry is like a week or a month in others,” Morgan said. “Honestly, it’s difficult to keep up even for someone like me who is immersed in the area. That said, I love the fast pace.”

She runs a series of workshops for lawyers — Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Smart Contract Essentials — to help them learn the terminology, gain practical skills and discover how to assess risk so they can better serve their clients in the cryptocurrency field.

“This technology will not replace lawyers,” Morgan said. “It will, however, change the practice of law. As we begin to automate aspects of contract creation and enforcement, high quality counsel, offering strategic advice, risk assessment and mitigation based upon an understanding of the underlying technology will become even more important.”

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Pamela Morgan

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Contact: Kaylee Place

Phone: 313-577-4629

Email: kaylee.place@wayne.edu

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