Season 1 – Episode 10 ·

From Trial Law to Facebook and Cryptocurrency with Paul Grewal

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It's hard to imagine a more diverse and interesting career for a trial lawyer than that of Paul Grewal. Paul began his career trying complex technology cases to juries, presided over more than 30 jury trials as a Federal Judge in the Northern District of California and then became a senior lawyer at Facebook and the cryptocurrency trading company, Coinbase. Our discussion with Paul covers all aspects of his incredible career, including his approach to trying cases, perspective from the bench and how these experiences helped form his approach to issues involving digital media and cryptocurrency.

What you will learn from this episode.

We begin the episode discussing Paul's early career as a trial lawyer where he had to find ways to explain complex concepts, often involving technology, to ordinary jurors.  Paul describes how he learned to do this, particularly with argument by analogies that were accessible to jurors.

We then move to discuss Paul's years as a Judge in the Northern District of California, where he presided over many civil jury trials.  As a judge, Paul was in a good position to observe and comment on the quality of the lawyering.  He saw what worked and what did not work in front of juries.  He also developed views about how to improve civil jury trials to produce fairer and better results.

Following Paul's time on the bench, we became of the senior attorneys at Facebook, responsible for managing Facebook's litigation across the globe.  Paul shares what he learned about digital media from that experience and provides his take on the current debate between first amendment open media and the role of social media platforms, like Facebook, in the dissemination of propaganda, conspiracy theory and false and misleading information.

Finally, we move on to discuss Paul's current position as general counsel at Coinbase, an online cryptocurrency trading platform. Paul explains the concept behind cryptocurrency and provides his thoughts on the future of this type of digital currency.

Paul Grewal

Photo of Paul Grewal

Paul Grewal (full name: Paul Singh Grewal) is currently Chief Legal Officer at Coinbase. Previously Grewal was Vice President and Deputy General Counsel at Facebook, and is also a former U.S. Magistrate Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Grewal received his Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 1993 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was elected to Tau Beta Pi and Sigma Xi  Grewal then obtained his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from the University of Chicago in 1996.

Upon graduation from law school, Grewal served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Sam H. Bell of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. After his clerkship, he joined the law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP (then known as Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro LLP), primarily practicing complex commercial litigation. After working at Pillsbury, Grewal then served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Arthur Gajarsa of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

After his clerkship with Judge Gajarsa, Grewal joined the law firm of Day Casebeer Madrid & Batchelder (which later merged with and became Howrey LLP, which he was a part of), where he became a partner and served on the firm's management committee, and where his practice focused on intellectual property litigation and patent litigation, with an emphasis on federal patent trials in district courts across the country and appellate work at a variety of federal appellate courts, including the Federal Circuit. In private practice, Grewal was also a registered patent attorney admitted to practice before the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, and he performed re-examinations for his clients, which included independent inventors and companies in the high-technology, biotechnology, medical device, and financial firm/service spaces

Grewal was a former president of the South Asian Bar of Northern California and the Northern American South Asian Bar Association. In 2010, Grewal was named as a "Best Lawyer Under 40" by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA).

Magistrate Judge Service
On December 1, 2010, Grewal was sworn in as a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. At that time, he was only the second sitting South Asian Federal Magistrate Judge in the United States. While a judge on that court, Grewal sat on the Northern District's Technology Practice and Patent Instructions and Rules Committees. Judge Grewal was also appointed by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to the Federal Judicial Center’s Magistrate Judge Education Committee and served as a co-chair of the Federal Circuit Bar Association’s Judges Committee.

On May 12, 2016, The Recorder reported that Judge Grewal would leave the bench in June 2016 to join Facebook as their Vice President and Deputy General Counsel. Judge Grewal retired from the bench on June 3, 2016.

He joined Facebook as the company's Vice President and Deputy General Counsel in June 2016.

On July 9, 2020, it was announced that Grewal would replace Brian Brooks as Chief Legal Officer at Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange.

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