Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan is formally launching a cannabis practice in the latest sign that Big Law views this once-illicit market as a serious growth opportunity.
Quinn Emanuel’s practice will focus on cannabis-related litigation and include more than a dozen partners across six offices.
At least a dozen other large law firms have launched cannabis industry practices with cannabis now legal for recreational use in 11 states and the District of Columbia. The firm said another 33 states permit its use for medical purposes.
Law firms are lured by a market that some analysts predict will grow to $75 billion by 2030. While businesses in some industries, such as banking, have failed to overcome regulatory hurdles to work with cannabis clients, there’s no such concern at Quinn Emanuel, said Robert Becher, who’ll lead the new group.
“The courts are hearing these disputes and ruling on them,” he said.
The Los Angeles-based partner has practiced in the cannabis industry at the firm in recent years and written on topics ranging from cannabis-focused patents to insurance issues for marijuana-related businesses.
He said cannabis industry clients have litigation needs similar to other industries. Those disputes play out in a highly fragmented industry where regulations vary from state to state.
“I expect this practice area to grow dramatically over the coming years, especially as we bring our expertise in various disciplines such as patent litigation, arbitration, securities litigation to bear on behalf of our cannabis industry clients,” Becher said. “The firm is fully committed to this practice area and to maintaining our role as experts in the cannabis field by publishing, participating in conferences and of course by representing our clients in these types of disputes.”
Ranking No. 23 in the latest AmLaw 100 rankings, Quinn Emanuel is one of the largest and most high-profile law firms to have launched a cannabis practice. Though it’s not entirely new to this evolving area of the law.
The business litigation firm has already represented numerous clients in the industry, including defending cannabis industry investment firm Sol Global Investments in a securities fraud class action.
“We are the world’s top litigation firm, and we have always been at the forefront of disputes involving emerging and innovative industries,” Quinn Emanuel founder John Quinn said in a statement . “It is only natural for the firm to establish itself as the preeminent expert in this field.”
Some Big Law partners also have profited from investing in the industry. A trio of Polsinelli partners left the firm in 2015 to launch a medical marijuana company that was sold last year for $682 million.
(Adds detail, quotes from interview with Becher.)
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