Cannabis law firms are crucial to anyone who is operating in the cannabis industry. Cannabis companies in particular need to work with an attorney to help protect business trademarks and manage the company’s regulatory risks. Here’s what you need to know about finding the best law firm for cannabis companies.
The Best Law Firms for Cannabis Companies
Finding the right law firm for cannabis companies can be a struggle because the industry is still up and coming. Fortunately, there are several law firms that have handled cannabis legal matters for years. Here are some of the best cannabis law firms to consider, whether you’re just starting your cannabis business or have been running it for years.
Goodwin was founded in Boston in 1912 by two Harvard classmates. The firm’s purpose has always been to create forward-thinking solutions for its clients. The firm's current 1,800 lawyers are spread across locations in the United States, Europe and Asia.
Goodwin has a full cannabis team of lawyers who can handle the full spectrum of cannabis legal services. This includes securing funding for investment opportunities, issuing cannabis patent documentation and protecting intellectual property. The firm also handles the important job of government and regulatory investigations and advising clients on compliance matters. Notable cannabis clients include Dutchie, KIVA Brands and Zen Cannabis.
Husch Blackwell is a firm with over 800 attorneys across several locations in the U.S., including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. There are several industry teams within the firm that focus on creating in-depth solutions for their clients.
This firm has helped cannabis industry clients for more than a decade. The cannabis team counsels clients on financing, employment issues, federal and state regulations and more. The legal team serves a variety of cannabis clients, including retailers, infused products manufacturers,, testing facilities and marijuana technology companies. Clients include Medicine Man, Gentleman Quinns and Farmobile LLC.
Seyfarth Shaw LLP
Seyfarth Shaw LLP was founded in Chicago in 1945. The firm has about 900 lawyers across 17 offices worldwide, including Boston, Chicago, Hong Kong, New York and Melbourne.
Seyfarth Shaw LLP is dedicated to helping clients navigate the complexities of doing business in the cannabis industry. The firm serves as outside general counsel for basic matters such as employment law and contract enforcement. It also advises on entity structuring, risk analysis and more.
Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP
Arnold & Porter was founded over 100 years ago and has about 1,000 lawyers in 13 offices across the U.S., Europe and Asia. Some of its attorneys have backgrounds that include holding senior positions in the U.S. and European governments that give its clients insider perspectives that help overcome litigation and regulatory challenges.
The firm has followed the evolving cannabis industry and offers a cross-functional team to individuals and businesses in the industry. The team advises cannabis businesses on the legality, risks and compliance requirements based on the products that each client is looking to sell. Clients include growers, manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and retailers.
Zuber Lawler describes itself as one of the most selective law firms in the United States. The firm focuses primarily on litigation and regulatory work, including finance deals. Zuber Lawler represents clients from its offices in New York, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Phoenix and the Silicon Valley.
Zuber Lawler has been representing leading cannabis clients for over 15 years, providing services such as cannabis patents and cannabis regulatory compliance. The cannabis team focuses on some of the underserved areas within the industry, including Food and Drug Administration (FDA) compliance, patents, trademarks and restructuring.
Why Do Cannabis Companies Need an Attorney?
Cannabis companies need an attorney for several reasons. Hiring a lawyer might seem to be an unnecessary expense for new businesses, but it can save you a lot of money and headache in the long run. Developing a relationship with an attorney at the start of your business can help you continue to build and improve in the years to come.
Reason: Attorneys keep track of changes in cannabis policies and regulations. They can advise you of these changes and help you stay compliant.
Reason: An attorney can help you protect your business’s intellectual property and trade secrets.
Reason: By having an attorney lined up when you start your business, you’ll have someone to advise you on marketing regulations, customer relations and more.
How to Make the Most of an Attorney on Retainer
In most cases, when you develop a relationship with an attorney, you will likely have the attorney on retainer. This means you’ll pay your attorney a fee (the retainer) up front to keep the attorney on call for services. When you have an ongoing relationship with your attorney, it’s important to know how to get the most out of your money.
Tip: Keep your communication simple. When contacting your attorney regarding a question or an issue, you should only contact them once by either phone or email. Your attorney will charge for the time spent handling your matter, so if you call about an issue and then email to follow up, you are unnecessarily increasing your fees. You should also avoid talking to your attorney about unnecessary information so you’re only charged for what’s needed.
Tip: Know when to handle things on your own. You want to keep in communication with your attorney on an as-needed basis. This means that you should try to handle small, nonlegal matters on your own. For example, you do not need your attorney’s help when it comes to formulating your business plan. You can also handle registering your business name and applying for an employer identification number on your own. However, your attorney should be the one to handle contracts and agreements.
Tip: Stick to your attorney’s schedule. Some attorneys may charge more for meetings after hours or on weekends. Be sure you understand your attorney’s office hours and retainer policy before setting up a meeting.
Tip: Use your paralegal when possible. Your retainer agreement should detail the fees for working with your paralegal as well as with your attorney. Paralegals can often handle day-to-day correspondence at a lower rate, so working with them can help you stretch your retainer. Your paralegal can also tell you when a matter should be handled by the attorney.
Tip: Send items to your attorney on time. When working with your attorney, you will likely need to provide documents and other information as needed. Make sure you respond to these requests in a timely manner. If you don’t, you can expect to be charged for follow-up reminder calls and emails.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, decriminalization does not mean legal. If cannabis is decriminalized, it just means that the legal system will not prosecute someone for possession under a specified amount.
Possession of cannabis is currently illegal under federal law. However, some states have legalized possession of cannabis up to certain limits.