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- Cannabis has been a growing market for both big and boutique law firms in recent years.
- That’s in part because companies involved in cannabis often have to navigate the difficult grey areas that exist due to the compound’s federal illegality, even as it has gained legal status on some level in many states.
- As cannabis companies have expanded either nationally or internationally, both boutique law firms that specialize in cannabis and bigger corporate law firms that have gotten involved have had to grow with the industry.
- Business Insider asked some of the top VCs, startups, and multi-state operators in the cannabis industry who their picks for best law firms were.
- They came back with dozens of names. Here are the top seven firms that were mentioned the most.
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Cannabis companies in North America are engaged in an incredibly complex business.
They’re selling a substance that remains illegal on the federal level, even as it has become legal in some shape or form across many states in the US.
This often means seeking the advice of experts who can help companies follow laws and regulations, which are often in flux and vary from state to state. The industry’s growing size, expansion plans, and public-market debuts have only added to the complexity.
Enter law firms that are either geared specifically to the industry or that have developed teams to tackle the questions that arise from working in a market like no other.
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When the cannabis market was beginning to develop, bigger law firms were for the most part reluctant to get involved with cannabis companies because of the implications of assisting businesses that are technically illegal. The ones that did get involved early decided to stay relatively quiet about their client list until recently.
Today, the landscape looks very different. Boutique firms specializing in cannabis have grown with the market while law firm giants, like Reed Smith, Locke Lord, and Dorsey & Whitney have formed teams to take on cannabis clients, and are promoting their expertise with newsletters, blogs, and podcasts.
Read more:Law firm giants like Dorsey & Whitney, Locke Lord, and Dentons are forming special teams in an attempt to win over clients in the $56 billion cannabis industry
Business Insider reached out to 29 players in the cannabis industry, from VCs to startups to multi-state operators, to get their take on the best law firms in the industry. Here are the seven top firms, based on which names came up most often.
Here’s the list:
Duane Morris – 2 votes
Involved in cannabis:2015
Recommended by:Panther Opportunity Fund, Salveo Capital
About:Duane Morris’ cannabis industry group, which has been around since 2015, is led by Seth A. Goldberg (Philadelphia), Tracy Gallegos (San Francisco/Las Vegas) and Paul P. Josephson (Cherry Hill, NJ).
Their clients range from those directly cultivating and selling cannabis products to investors in the industry. A spokesperson for the firm said that the group advises clients in a variety of areas, including regulatory, intellectual property, and litigation law.
Feuerstein Kulick – 2 votes
Involved in cannabis:2016
Recommended by:Navy Capital, Holistic Industries
About:Feuerstein Kulick is a cannabis-focused law firm that currently has 16 lawyers advising investors as well as plant-touching and ancillary cannabis businesses. David Feuerstein told Business Insider that the firm deals with “all aspects of cannabis” including areas such as corporate law, M&A, restructuring, and regulatory advice.
The firm represented Navy Capital in its recent $5.8 million deal with 4 Front.
Zuber Lawler – 2 votes
Involved in cannabis:2006
Recommended by:Navy Capital, Big Rock Partners
About:Zuber Lawler was the first law firm on this list to have gotten involved in cannabis. The firm focuses on areas in the industry including intellectual property, M&A, litigation, and regulatory work.
The firm has four offices in the US: in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Silicon Valley.
Goodwin – 3 votes
Involved in cannabis:2016
Recommended by:Casa Verde Capital, AFI Capital Partners, Sunderstorm
About:Goodwin entered the cannabis space in 2016 and represents a handful of the major players in the field, including VCs like Casa Verde Capital and AFI Capital Partners, as well as companies like Sunderstorm and Pax Labs.
The firm has more than 1,200 lawyers across the US, Europe, and Asia. The lead lawyers in the cannabis industry include: David Apfel, William Growney, Brett Schuman, Jennifer Fisher, and Nilda Isidro.
Hoban Law – 3 votes
Involved in cannabis:2009
Recommended by:Panther Opportunity Fund, Big Rock Partners, Salveo Capital
About:Hoban Law works exclusively in the cannabis sector and advises both cannabis and hemp companies in areas such as intellectual property, international law, policy, and finance.
Founded in 2009, the originally Denver-based law firm now has offices across the US as well as in South America and Europe.
Reed Smith – 3 votes
Involved in cannabis:2018
Recommended by:LeafLink, Big Rock Partners, AFI Capital Partners
About:Reed Smith offers services in areas such as M&A, debt, real estate, intellectual property, regulatory compliance, and risk management in the US and Europe.
The firm’s cannabis practice team leadership includes Claudia Springer as Chair and Marc Hauser as Vice Chair. Hauser’s newsletter “Cannabis Musings” offers regular insight into the cannabis space.
Vicente Sederberg – 4 votes
Involved in cannabis:2010
Recommended by:Wurk, LeafLink, Pax, Salveo Capital
About:Vicente Sederberg is a cannabis-focused law firm based in Colorado, where it helped shape regulations around the state’s adult-use market. The firm works to advise cannabis companies that range from ancillary companies like Wurk and Leaflink as well as companies that touch the plant.
Since its founding, the firm has helped shape cannabis regulations in the US as well as internationally.