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From Cannabis Lawyer To Advisor – The Journey Of Anne van Leynseele

From Cannabis Lawyer To Advisor – The Journey Of Anne van Leynseele

With an exceptional mind and practical business skills, Anne van Leynseele worked in diverse industries and has also been at the leading edge in most of them. From Los Angeles’ commercialization of the entertainment industry, to the rapid formation of the northwest digital media boom, and then the deregulation of Australia’s communication industry, she relishes taming the unknown. She served as a business developer, business management consultant, and managed commercial transactions in Sydney Australia. After her return to the United States,  she realized that she enjoyed negotiating, drafting and executing contracts the most. This reflection provoked her towards the idea of obtaining a doctorate in law. To better understand the demands of the field, she had an informational discussion with a former law school Dean and an attorney at the prestigious regional law firm, Preston Gates & Ellis, later to become K&L Gates. The attorney gave her some sage advice along with an invitation to work as a clerk so that she could see the realities of the career of a lawyer on a day-to-day basis. She continued to work there through her three years of night school at Seattle University School of Law.

During this time, Anne worked on creating a document called “The Layperson’s Guide to Breast Cancer”. To her delight,  one of her professors shared the document with the transition team and it caught the attention of the Obama Administration, and helped Anne land a position to serve as a federal attorney-advisor in Washington DC for the first four years under President Obama. This was an incredible opportunity for her considering she was a fresh law school graduate. Her work there was to apply knowledge of statutes, regulations, and policy interpretations to evaluate legal sufficiency of decisions and dismissals rendered by Administrative Law Judges while preparing comprehensive written analyses summarizing critical issues in each case, setting forth findings and conclusions, and recommending formal action to the Appeals Council. 

After four years, an experienced Anne came back to Washington State with a vision to work as a healthcare lawyer. After disappointing experiences with the entrenched, male dominated Seattle legal landscape, and while drafting a business plan to open her own practice, Anne came across an article stating that a federal government agency had denied water rights to legal marijuana growers in Washington State and Colorado. She observed that while the newly legalized industry needed a lawyer well versed in regulatory and business law, most of the attorneys practicing cannabis law were criminal lawyers. Considering the needs of startup companies, who urgently needed a regulatory lawyer dedicated to their industry, Anne decided to start her own law firm. 

In May 2014, Anne opened doors of NWMJ Law, and later evolved into 7 Point Law to comport with the national reach. In the beginning, the firm had Anne, her laptop, a cell phone and her wits to assist her clients to navigate the complex new industry. By 2017, her firm grew to a core team of five lawyers, two paralegals, and an additional team of specialist outside lawyers. 

After the complicated dissolution of the law partnership, her journey in cannabis continued when in 2019 she moved to a Los Angeles corporate and cannabis law firm, as an Of Counsel lawyer. There her legal skills matured to include a more global viewpoint and capability. In 2020, she left to found Gemba Growth, a more comprehensive and customized approach to fractional corporate counsel and tactical business advising. Based on her unique inside knowledge of the criminal operators  hiding in the legalized industry, Anne is currently writing a much anticipated expose memoir on the early days of legal cannabis and the persistent problems that the industry must overcome in order to become a legitimate national  industry, which will be published before the end of 2021.

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