Clark Neubert LLP is a women-owned cannabis law firm founded in 2014. The firm provides comprehensive legal counsel to commercial cannabis businesses in all aspects of formation, operation, licensing, compliance, and corporate financial transactions.
Q&A with Entrepreneur & Clark Neubert
What do you think are the biggest misconceptions cannabis industry?
That licensed California businesses are getting wealthy. Most of our clients are struggling with high tax and regulatory costs, and their burden is compounded by the lack of banking and insurance. California’s regulators are very well intentioned, but the system is set up in a way that’s almost punitive for operators getting licensed. Sadly, that’s keeping the illicit market robust. As lawyers, it’s our job to help our clients be in full alignment with the law. As advocates, our goal is to create a better, fairer business environment for entrepreneurs who want to stay legit.
How is your business innovating?
We still live in a time when a cannabis law firm innovates just by existing. When we partnered in 2014, we were one of the first firms to be upfront about our focus, rather than burying it three or four clicks down the website. We did that consciously, because we saw the industry’s tremendous need. That vision is behind everything we do; we’re always looking around the next corner. Now we’re expanding our geographic reach and corporate practice, to be ready for the impending wave of M&A, and deepening our expertise on hot button issues like water and hemp.
What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome in your business?
Attitudes of scarcity and competition. There is so much opportunity in cannabis for ethical professionals, and everything--the practice, the work product, and the advice--is better when everyone collaborates. We strive to operate from a deep, abiding sense of abundance; that there is more than enough to go around and so we should lift each other up. This is a radical notion in a profession and culture that encourages competition and fosters divisiveness, so maintaining equanimity is challenging. But we’re proof you can do that, believe in the best in people, and still be successful.
What is your favorite aspect of working in this industry?
Creativity and diversity. Cannabis is still an industry that draws in all types of iconoclasts from every background imaginable. There’s huge strength in that, but it’s going to take a lot of work to preserve the diversity--of thought, background, and perspective--that has made this industry so great.
What inspires you?
The unknown. As attorneys, we wake up every day and practice law in what’s still a very gray area. As advocates, we help shape the laws we then apply in our practice. As human beings, we get to work with the most awe-inspiring people. And it’s all because this space is full of unknowns: what will happen with rescheduling, whether we’ll get a real banking solution, and much more. There's never a dull day in cannabis, and we get to do it all for a female plant. It doesn’t get much better than that.