Dentons, one of the world’s largest law firms, poached a senior partner from Jones Day to build a dedicated marijuana practice.
The partner, Eric P. Berlin, told Business Insider that he’s “really looking to be the number one firm” in the cannabis industry.
Berlin worked on the four-way merger that became TILT last year, and was instrumental in crafting Illinois’ medical marijuana law.
One of the world’s largest law firms poached a senior partner to build out a dedicated marijuana practice, Business Insider has learned.
Eric P. Berlin, formerly a partner at Jones Day, joined Dentons in January as a partner in the Chicago office. As part of his new role, Berlin will spearhead the firm’s work with cannabis industry clients, along with Kathryn Ashton, the chair of Dentons’ healthcare practice, and Kelly Fair, a member of Dentons’ litigation practice in San Francisco.
Read more: Big law firms are building out specialized pot practices to chase down a red-hot market for weed deals
“Dentons was interested in building what would be widely regarded as the number one practice for the more sophisticated clients in, or impacted by, the cannabis industry,” Berlin told Business Insider in an interview. “There was a synergy there — I was interested in being able to do that.”
Berlin said he knew Ashton from working with cannabis clients in the Chicago area. After a period of “courtship,” Berlin said Dentons’ sold him on building out the new practice group.
A tangled web of regulations
Berlin first started taking a serious look at marijuana after he read research that showed how patients suffering from myriad digestive issues — as well as multiple sclerosis — had used the drug for palliative relief.
As the president of the University of Chicago’s GI Research Foundation, Berlin started to take on pro bono work to help craft Illinois’ medical marijuana law roughly a decade ago.
After that legislation passed, he started to take on some clients who were applying for medical marijuana licenses. Starting in 2014, as Colorado legalized marijuana for adult use, Berlin said he “saw where the industry was going.”
Read more: Marijuana companies are using a ‘backdoor’ strategy to tap the public markets — and it’s fueling an M&A boom
“I knew there was going to be a building demand for sophisticated legal services, the kinds of normal legal services we to provide to all sorts of clients,” Berlin said. And besides the business opportunity, he found the ever-shifting, tangled web of regulations around marijuana intellectually fascinating.
As part of his work at his former firm, Jones Day, Berlin worked on the four-way merger between Briteside Holdings, Sea Hunter Therapeutics, Santé Veritas Holdings, and Baker Technologies — which became TILT — a publicly traded company, among other M&A transactions.
He’s also helped counsel clients both within, and impacted by, the marijuana industry, including the California-based vape company Hmbldt “work through the maze of federal uncertainty.”
Getting prepared ‘well ahead of the market’
Berlin has big goals for his new role — even though, as he admits, …read more
Source:: Business Insider