Giancarlo Joins Law Firm, Vows to Continue Digital Advocacy

Willkie Farr & Gallagher is latest affiliation of ex-CFTC chairman, who says more are to come

Friday, December 6, 2019

By Jeffrey Kutler


The former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, J. Christopher Giancarlo, is taking on multiple roles to stay active at what he terms “the junction of trading markets, technology and law.” The latest is as senior counsel of international law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher, which he says is “a center of excellence in all three areas.”

Giancarlo, to be based in the New York office, said in a December 2 statement, ”I look forward to working with the firm's attorneys and clients in building the digital financial markets of tomorrow.”

Giancarlo, who had served on the CFTC for five years, through July, and was chairman for the final two years of his term, is also on the board of directors of American Financial Exchange, the interbank funding marketplace that sponsors the Ameribor benchmark and Ameribor futures; and is on the board of advisers of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, which represents the digital asset and blockchain industry.

Willkie provides another platform for digital-market and innovation advocacy, which is a logical career progression for Giancarlo, who at the CFTC oversaw the introduction of the first bitcoin futures products. He was executive vice president of GFI Group, a technologically innovative interdealer brokerage that completed a merger into BGC Partners in 2016, and was EVP and U.S. legal counsel of Fenics Software, which was a GFI subsidiary.

J. Christopher Giancarlo Headshot
J. Christopher Giancarlo

He said in an email that while working with Willkie clients, he “will further focus on key issues of public policy through writing and personal service on both public and private boards.” And there will be announcements of “additional leadership roles in enterprises engaged in financial trading markets and digital commerce.”

Giancarlo noted that Willkie had been outside legal counsel to GFI Group. He also said that along with his support of Ameribor as an alternative to the Libor benchmark, he will continue to advocate development of a blockchain-based digital dollar, as proposed in an October 15 Wall Street Journal opinion article that he co-authored with former LabCFTC director Daniel Gorfine. After departing as head of the agency's innovation hub in August, Gorfine founded consulting firm Gattaca Horizons.

Legal Background

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Skidmore College, Giancarlo earned a JD degree from Vanderbilt University School of Law and is a member of the Bar of the State of New York. He was a corporate partner in the New York firm of Brown Raysman Millstein Felder & Steiner, a founding partner of Giancarlo & Gleiberman, and an associate in the London office of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle.

Giancarlo is a founding board member and former chairman of the Wholesale Markets Brokers Association (Americas) and was a member of the leadership board of the Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. His “do no harm” regulatory attitude toward cryptocurrencies and blockchain was a factor in his gaining 45,000 Twitter followers and the nickname “Crypto Dad,” popularly paired with the “Crypto Mom” tag of the Securities and Exchange Commission's Hester Peirce.

“As a leading voice on the regulation of emerging technologies, Chris brings knowledge, experience and public and private sector relationships that will be invaluable to our clients in the financial services, technology and commodities sectors,” said Willkie chairman Steven Gartner. “His legal and corporate background, unparalleled knowledge of the global derivatives markets and their intersection with emerging technologies, combined with his longstanding relationships across the firm, make him a natural fit for Willkie.”


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