More than 165 years ago, tens of thousands of hopeful prospectors flooded California to mine for gold. Today, mining of a very different sort is happening. People are competing through their computers to solve complex math problems in exchange for Bitcoins-units of virtual currency that are also a store of value and, for tax purposes, property. As I write, one Bitcoin is worth more than $400.
When lawyer and financial writer Michael Bobelian
began working on our cover story ("Serious Money"), he knew very little about Bitcoin other than its reputation as an alleged tool for illegal transactions. After four months of reporting, Bobelian describes it as a "revolutionary technology that can serve as a foundation for many different types of enterprises that we can't even fathom now." He likens it to the early days of the Internet, when no one could have predicted the myriad online companies we have today.
Though Bobelian's business and law degrees were helpful, he says it would take a computer science degree to truly understand how the protocol works. "I tell people you store [Bitcoin] on your hard drive, even though it's digital," says Bobelian, "and if your hard drive melts down, you lose it."
When Bobelian asked lawyers about the regulatory environment for Bitcoin, they were very careful in their answers. "I got long pauses before they responded," he says. "Then they gave generic responses: 'The government is doing the right thing.' " But when asked about the business side, he says, the attorneys were effusive about its potential.
Also in this issue: Stan Sinberg
's profile of Sheila Kuehl, a former TV actor and state legislator who's one of four lawyers on the ballot in the Third District's Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors race next month ("The Many Lives of Sheila Kuehl"); an interview with Donald Verrilli Jr., solicitor general of the United States ("Saving Obamacare," Legally Speaking); and two MCLE articles-a special credit MCLE on reduction of bias in the profession ("A Level Playing Field"), and an entertaining piece on fair use ("Fair Use in Hollywood").
I look forward to hearing from you about this issue. Just drop me a line at CL_Editor@dailyjournal.com