Blockchain expert Jimmy Nguyen (JD 1995) uses law school as springboard to business possibilities
By Leslie Ridgeway
The career trajectory for Jimmy Nguyen (JD 1995) started with digital entertainment, moved to fintech, gaming and now, to blockchain advocacy
When Jimmy Nguyen (JD 1995) enrolled at USC Gould School of Law, his vision of the future was wide open. Today, as chief executive officer for Blockchain for All, a company he founded in late 2022 to encourage the adoption of blockchain around the world, his views only continue to expand.
“Blockchain will change how we make payments, business and consumer interactions, how we own our data, how governments manage data for their citizens … it has the potential as a data network to advance the world in ways you can’t imagine,” says Nguyen, who came to America from Vietnam with his family in 1975, with the first wave of post-Vietnam War refugees.
Nguyen travels the globe to speak to organizations and governments about the value of blockchain, and in a full circle moment, was invited in 2022 by the Ministry of Communications and IT in Vietnam to speak about blockchain at the “Future of Internet” conference organized by the Vietnam Internet Network Information Center.
When applying to law school, Nguyen says he assumed he would enroll in a public school after attending public schools up to that point. He applied to USC Gould as an additional option, and was shocked when offered a full scholarship.
“It was unsettling in a good way,” says Nguyen, who entered law school at age 19. “That [acceptance] letter made me think, ‘What if I open myself up to this possibility?’ I don’t know exactly how it changed my life, but I know since then, my career has gone on an amazing trajectory.”
In law school, he saw promise in media and entertainment, and although Gould’s entertainment law program was in its early stages, courses in criminal law and especially the Hale Moot Court Honors Program, which he won as a 2L and chaired as a 3L, while also winning one of the national moot court competitions as a 3L, kept him interested in law as a career.
After graduation, at the height of the dot.com boom, Nguyen signed on as an associate at Foley & Lardner LLP. Digital entertainment was hot and Nguyen, sensing opportunity, was supported at a young age in creating an entertainment and media practice emphasizing digital technology. In 2016, while then a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, after working with more and more clients in fintech and the gaming space, the emergence of Bitcoin and blockchain technology inspired him to help launch a client’s blockchain R&D business in London and then become its CEO. That was the last time he worked in a legal practice.
“Lawyers need to be open to the idea that law school is a great educational and professional development opportunity …but you are more than a law degree,” he says. “After building a global profile in blockchain, I am now positioning myself more broadly to work in AI, the metaverse, ‘smart cities’ and the Internet of Things, and it’s time to go even bigger. There’s constant growth possible from a legal education, and I’m glad I got it at Gould.”