Hoban law firm, arguably the country’s most successful SME cannabis law firm with a wide-reaching network of attorneys in the US and beyond has made the step into big law by announcing their integration with top 100 giant Clark Hill.
In the National Law Journal’s 2021 NLJ 500 ranking of firms based on size, Detroit based Clark Hill currently has 591 attorneys and is ranked 82nd in the United States with an estimated $308,887,000 gross revenue in 2020. The firm also placed just outside the top 100 at 109 in The American Lawyer’s 2021 Am Law 200 ranking.
As of today founder Bob Hoban will co-head up Clark Hill’s cannabis practice with Sander C. Zagzebski operating out of the Los Angeles office.
Cannabis Law Report spoke with Bob Hoban to get the lowdown on who, what where and how, and first of all why.
The provision of legal services to the nascent cannabis (hemp and marijuana) industry has become increasingly competitive over the past several years, with numerous industry-specific rankings, and the like.
HLG has consistently ranked in the top ten of those rankings and is regularly recognized as a leader in providing legal services to the industry. However, the market is changing very fast and changes are required to continue to compete.
We asked Bob why the marriage with Clark Hill after speaking to a number of national and international firms?
As I have written extensively, 2021 is the year of cannabis industry consolidation. As a result, HLG either needed to continue to grow extremely rapidly in order to add more lawyers with broader experience, or it needed to acquire those lawyers in another manner; the former would take far too many years. HLG does not have that luxury. With the likelihood of passage of the ‘Banking Bill’ and the likely (subsequent) federal legalization of cannabis during the Biden Administration, HLG only has a 2-3 year window to maximize its position in this pace.
In short, HLG could not afford to wait that long, or it would risk being left behind. Integration into Clark Hill immediately provides HLG with hundreds of very experienced lawyers from numerous jurisdictions to service our clients.
More importantly, because so many people in the cannabis industry follow our lead, this is a great example of HLG ‘leading by example,’ and recognizing and executing on the business trends in the industry that we serve.
He indicated that on a number of fronts their approach as well as desire to be the top US and international cannabis practice utilizing Clark Hill’s existing infrastructure, existing cannabis practitioners, and national, international footprint.
Clark Hill’s DNA consists of these guiding principles
Count On More. The firm provides practical counsel with an entrepreneurial spirit, offering innovative ideas, technologies, and solutions. It delivers value through high-quality work and a collaborative team approach
Relationships Fuel The Firm. Respect is the foundation of Clark Hill’s strong relationships with clients and colleagues. The firm is tenacious advocates for its clients while being approachable and supportive
Everyone Matters. The firm values the contributions of each individual in the firm and encourages fresh ideas and diverse perspectives. Clark Hill embraces the differences among its colleagues, enriching the firm’s experiences
Ethical Behavior is Non-Negotiable. Clark Hill believes in doing the right thing every time. The firm upholds its professional responsibilities and are accountable for its actions
It’s Not Just About Clark Hill. Making a positive impact is central to who the firm is. Clark Hill devotes its personal and collective time, talent, and resources to making communities better places to live and work
The firm already has excellent cannabis, healthcare, banking and corp divisions and a desire on Clark Hill’s part to create a cannabis practice group with around 50 experts who can apply their contacts and skills to an industry sector that is getting ever closer to entering the US business mainstream.
Recent murmurings from the likes and Amazon and even Apple have confirmed that the major corporates and tech are ready to move into the sector once Washington DC starts to lift restrictions on banking issues.
Although not charging headfirst into change, the Biden administration has indicated that the desire to move forward the issue of federal cannabis legislation is there and it is time for national US cannabis practices with an international focus to start preparing for these changes.
About half the Hoban Of Counsel team will be joining the Clark Hill practice and although the cannabis practice will, as mentioned, be headquartered out of Denver it will also have legal experts available in their other offices throughout the country.
It is, though, their plans for an international presence that will step the new practice into a spot where few firms have gone; with a strong growth strategy for Mexico and also the EU based out of their office located in Dublin.
The aim, Hoban says, is to create a multi-disciplinary approach with a strong focus on thought leadership and knowledge. He notes in our conversation that although some smaller firms may have built a knowledge environment in the main it has been state-based and with the support of Clark Hill’s respected marketing team he can provide a global perspective to the sector that nobody in the legal sector has yet been able to achieve with any authority.
Hoban is looking at a build-out that may take a couple of years to get the practice to where he wants it to be but knows that Clark Hill’s structure, professionalism, and desire to be the world leader in cannabis law can take what Hoban has already managed over the last decade to the next stage.
Here at CLR we look forward to following the development of the world’s first global cannabis practice, let’s hope that the legislators can keep up.