“We write our own rule book for how this firm is run.” Anne van Leynseele was quoted about her former law firm, 7 Point Law previously known as Northwest Marijuana Law. This cannabis lawyer launched her firm in May 2014 and claimed that it would not be like a traditional male dominated law firm.
With the continuous changes in cannabis regulation, 7 Point Law’s flat management structure allows the firm and its lawyers to respond immediately and creatively to any change in the industry. One example,in Washington State, a large cache of new regulations went into effect on July 1, 2016, something Anne had been working to make sure all her clients knew and her foresight and her triangulation of the effect of these changes would have saved several clients’ licenses. For this purpose, she continuously collects, processes, analyses, and presents all the information available to keep clients informed and in the best position to make good decisions. According to Anne, this overwhelming information and changes are due to the fact that the industry involves over twenty-three areas of law along with the necessity to comply with a myriad of ever-evolving regulatory issues.
For Anne, the most difficult task as a cannabis lawyer was to educate her clients, especially the ones who are not traditional business owners.
For Anne, the most difficult task as a cannabis lawyer was to educate her clients, especially the ones who are not traditional business owners. Due to the rapidly changing regulations, it became necessary for the client to stay updated, or else their businesses could suffer. Hence, Anne spent hours having one-on-one and group meetings with her clients explaining to them how quickly evolution is affecting the world of cannabis regulation. While working with some of the 43 cannabis organizations in Washington State, Anne explained to her clients about business formation and startup basics. This included clarifying things related to formation, investor agreements, and wealth creation, counsel them on regulatory and license compliance, tax issues, operational legalities, and negotiate mergers and acquisitions in a highly regulated industry.
During these early years, counties were passing emergency ordinances banning cannabis businesses. The then Washington State Liquor Control Board (now named Liquor and Cannabis Board and affectionately known as the WSLCB) was struggling to implement the massive licensure process that it had designed, and the lottery winners chosen to apply for the limited licenses were battling weekly changes to the WSLCB’s regulations. As a result, there was a need for Anne to focus in order to break the barrier between her clients and the continuous need to stay updated to regulations.
After the challenging dissolution of her partnership in 2018, Anne joined a Los Angeles corporate and cannabis law firm, as an Of Counsel attorney. There she provided regulatory and legal services to state-licensed companies, multistate operators, and ancillary companies, wrote numerous articles, and created substantive, innovative legal documents for national and trans-national cannabis and hemp companies. Presently, she is successfully building her new company, Gemba Growth, as a fractional general counsel and trusted business advisor. Anne is currently writing a much anticipated memoir on the early days of legal cannabis, which will be published before the end of 2021.