Bloomberg Law
May 1, 2023, 5:33 PMUpdated: May 1, 2023, 9:09 PM

Block, Robinhood, Coinbase Lawyers Among Fintech’s Top Paid (1)

Brian Baxter
Brian Baxter

Robinhood Markets Inc., Coinbase Global Inc., and Block Inc. made their legal chiefs among some of the highest-paid in the financial services industry last year as the companies cope with an array of legal and regulatory matters.

Robinhood’s chief legal, compliance, and corporate affairs officer Daniel Gallagher Jr., hired in 2020 after working for the US Securities and Exchange Commission, received nearly $15.1 million in total compensation last year, the company said in its proxy filing.

Coinbase’s chief legal officer and corporate secretary Paul Grewal received almost $7.5 million in total compensation during 2022, its proxy showed. Sivan Whiteley, most recently the top lawyer and and corporate secretary at Block, had a pay package valued at $8.3 million ahead of her departure this year.

All three financial technology companies have been leaning on their law department leaders to help them navigate thorny issues.

Robinhood last month agreed to pay up to $10.2 million to settle a probe into outages on its stock-trading platform. Coinbase is bracing for a potential drawn-out battle with the SEC over enforcement. Block has denied a short seller’s accusation it aided fraudsters via compliance failures among some subsidiaries.

In-house lawyers in banking and financial services are the top paid in the corporate world, followed by those in tax and energy, said a compensation analysis released Monday by legal consulting firm BarkerGilmore LLC.

Block tapped Christine “Chrysty” Esperanza, a former general counsel for the company’s Square business, to succeed Whiteley in mid-February as legal chief—an appointment that is no longer temporary, according to Block’s proxy.

Esperanza is identified as head of legal, regulatory, public policy and communications, compliance, and security matters at the company, according to Block’s website. A Block spokeswoman didn’t respond to a comment request.


Block, known as Square at the time it went public in late 2015, saw its founder Jack Dorsey’s net worth plunge in the aftermath of a report released by Hindenburg Research LLC. The short seller, no stranger to taking on business titans, focused its critiques on Block’s Cash App and Afterpay units.

Hindenburg alleges those Block businesses engaged in questionable practices and inflated their number of users. Whiteley left Block a month before Hindenburg went public with its claims. In a LinkedIn post announcing her exit in January after a decade at the company, Whiteley said she’s taking a year off.

Alexander Bean, who stepped down last year as Afterpay’s general counsel, and Crissy Solh, hired by Block last year as the first-ever general counsel for Cash App, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and King & Wood Mallesons advised Block, then called Square, on its $29 billion buy of Afterpay, a deal that closed in early 2022.

Whiteley has sold off roughly $650,500 in Block stock since that time, according to securities filings. Block’s most recent proxy said she received more than $7.8 million in stock awards and about $519,000 in base salary last year. Whiteley currently owns $6.4 million in Block stock, per Bloomberg data. Inc., a legal technology company that added Whiteley to its board in 2022, disclosed in a proxy of its own filed last week that she received $488,000 in total compensation last year.

Block’s law department has long been a hotbed of legal talent.

Former general counsel Dana Wagner, who left in 2016, just earned a $26 million payday as the top lawyer at Twilio Inc. Sydney Schaub, a former co-general counsel at Square with Whiteley, was hired last year as legal chief for Opendoor Technologies Inc. The home-buying company disclosed in its proxy that Schaub earned $4.8 million in 2022.

Whiteley took over as Block’s top lawyer in 2018 following the resignation of Hillary Smith, who stepped aside after more than a year in the role.


Bloomberg Law reported that Coinbase has retained litigators from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Sullivan & Cromwell as the largest US cryptocurrency platform mounts a fight to prevent the SEC from curtailing its business.

Grewal, in a publicly posted video with Coinbase chief executive Brian Armstrong, said last week that the company will “defend itself, vigorously, in litigation if it comes to that. But it does not have to come to that.”

Coinbase was responding to the SEC’s stated intention to bring an enforcement action against the company over its crypto-related tokens and products.

Grewal, a former US magistrate judge who joined Coinbase in mid-2020, saw his pay package last year comprise roughly $730,000 in base salary and more than $6.7 million in stock and options awards.

His compensation was a sizable increase from the $712,000 that Grewal earned in 2021—almost all of it cash—and less than half of the $18 million he was awarded in 2020 after Coinbase went public.

Coinbase expanded its legal group after that direct listing, although that team was not spared this year by a 20% reduction in force at the company.

Grewal has sold off more than $821,000 in Coinbase stock within the last year, according to securities filings. Bloomberg data shows that he currently owns $3.4 million in company shares.


Gallagher, a former partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, was initially appointed to Robinhood’s board in 2019. The company gave Gallagher a $30.1 million pay package after it went public two years later.

Robinhood’s most recent proxy reveals that Gallagher received $550,000 in base salary last year in addition to almost $14.9 million in stock awards. He currently owns $3.8 million in Robinhood stock, according to Bloomberg data.

Gallagher has been busy in recent years sparring with his former colleagues at the SEC, while also working to overhaul the company’s in-house legal team.

Robinhood made headlines last year for hiring a former Cooley associate who Elon Musk reportedly tried to get fired from the law firm.

Last month Robinhood also recruited K. Braeden Anderson—a former college basketball player who went on to work as an associate at Kirkland & Ellis and Sidley Austin—as an assistant general counsel for regulatory in Washington.

Janet Broeckel, a former head of litigation at Robinhood, was named general counsel this year for Major League Pickleball.

(Includes additional detail on Block, Coinbase, Robinhood and their respective legal chiefs after the eighth paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at; John Hughes at

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