Business Law - Finance 301: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - Litigation When Your Client’s Cannabis Business Investment Goes Up In Smoke
The legal cannabis industry is expanding rapidly worldwide. In North America alone, the industry is expected to grow to $50 billion by the end of the decade. But where there is smoke, there is fire. Class action lawsuits against cannabis companies are on the rise, driven by this industry growth, regulatory concerns, and stock price volatility, and publicly traded companies are not alone. Private companies face unhappy or disillusioned investors as well, who often did not understand for what they signed up when joining the “Green Rush.” This panel of seasoned litigators will discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of cannabis finance and investment litigation.
Jeffrey F. Barr is a partner in the firm’s Corporate Services practice group with more than 20 years of eclectic legal experience. While Jeff focuses his practice on counseling clients in the marijuana and hemp industries with respect to business transactions, commercial litigation, real estate, crisis management, and government relations, he also has experience with municipal law and has handled civil rights matters for his clients. Jeff has litigated corporate disputes, contract issues, and comprehensive regulatory controversies in the Nevada cannabis industry. He has counseled marijuana clients in connection with choosing proposed facility sites; helped clients understand and secure zoning and land use approvals; negotiated and drafted cannabis asset/equity purchase contracts, management agreements, employment agreements, commercial financing contracts, licensing agreements, and leases; and managed government affairs on behalf of marijuana clients. Jeff also handles appeals before the Supreme Court of Nevada and the Ninth Circuit for clients in all industries.
Jennifer Cabrera is counsel in the firm’s New York and New Jersey offices, where she focuses on licensing and regulatory matters. Her clients include existing medical operators in both New York and New Jersey, as well as businesses and individuals seeking new adult-use and medical licenses. She prepares state and local licensing applications in both states. Jennifer works with Vicente Sederberg’s National Licensing Team and has served as lead attorney on competitive applications in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. A native of Newark, New Jersey, Jennifer manages the firm’s New Jersey office and is actively involved in promoting and working with small and locally-owned businesses across the region.
Prior to joining Vicente Sederberg in 2019, Jennifer’s practice focused on commercial litigation and arbitration. She began her legal career at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, representing clients in complex commercial disputes, and later managed a boutique law firm, which gave her a crucial perspective on the experience of business owners.
Jennifer holds degrees from the University of Texas at Austin, Harvard Law School, and the University of Cambridge. She previously served as adjunct faculty at the law schools of Duke, Fordham, and St. John’s. She is a member of the board of the National Hispanic Cannabis Council and the Harvard Club of New York City.
Jeff Matura is a founding shareholder of Barrett | Matura. His practice emphasizes commercial litigation, municipal and governmental law, cannabis law, and insurance law. He is AV-Rated by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest peer-review rating an individual lawyer can receive. He has also received the Super Lawyer designation and is recognized as a Top Rated Business Litigation Attorney in Arizona. In his commercial litigation practice, Mr. Matura represents private and public companies in a variety of matters, including contract disputes, fraud claims, employment issues, insurance disputes, and other business-related issues. Mr. Matura works closely with in-house counsel on all business matters, and often serves as the first person to call when a company lacks its own established in-house legal department. Mr. Matura is also the head of the firm’s cannabis law practice group. In this capacity, he advises licensed entities, dispensaries, cultivators, operators, individuals, investors, publicly-traded companies, and others regarding compliance with the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, the Adult Use Marijuana Program, and other rules and regulations regarding medical and adult use cannabis. He also provides counseling on mergers and acquisitions, corporate structures, contracts, policies and procedures, and licensing issues that arise with the growing, production, and sale of medical and adult use cannabis. With respect to mergers and acquisitions, Mr. Matura has advised clients in transactions totaling more than $300 million. When disputes arise, Mr. Matura also handles litigation matters involving all aspects of medical cannabis, including disputes involving the Arizona Department of Health Services. In his municipal and governmental law practice, Mr. Matura represents towns, cities, counties, fire districts, water districts, and other special taxing districts throughout Arizona. Mr. Matura defends these municipalities against civil rights claims, employment disputes, housing matters, discrimination and retaliation claims, police enforcement issues, and other contested actions. Mr. Matura serves as the town or city attorney for several municipalities, works closely with a Town or City Manager, and often appears before a Town or City Council to provide advice on pending matters and updates on important laws. Mr. Matura also has specialized knowledge and experience regarding the Civil Rights Act, the Arizona and Federal Fair Housing Acts, reasonable accommodation requests, law enforcement disputes, and public records requests. Mr. Matura also testifies before the Arizona State Legislature to provide input on behalf of clients on proposed legislation that could impact municipalities. In his insurance law practice, Mr. Matura represents international and national life insurance companies, property and casualty companies, and other insurers. He often represents these insurers against first-party breach of contract and bad faith lawsuits, analyzes claims and medical payment issues, and advises insurers on their business needs and compliance with Arizona insurance laws. Mr. Matura handles disputes from their inception through trial. He has completed numerous jury trials in federal and state courts. He has also completed more than 50 administrative trials before various regulatory and administrative bodies throughout Arizona. Mr. Matura has also presented arguments and assisted on appeals before the United States Supreme Court, the Arizona Court of Appeals, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
On a typical day you’ll find Katy, Ad Astra’s managing partner and boss lady extraordinaire, out on the front lines advocating fiercely for her clients — as well as behind the scenes, helping to build a law firm full of wonderful people she’s proud of.
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” is one of Katy’s life mantras, and she’s never backed down from pursuing the outcome that represents a true victory for each client.
Whether it’s settling a dispute between co-owners of a business, representing individuals in breach of fiduciary duty and unfair competition claims, or defending private companies in a securities action, Katy’s mix of empathy and determination makes her an ideal teammate, supporter, and champion in any legal action.
Fellow attorneys regularly seek out Katy’s expertise as well, as she has expertise in emerging fields such as the cannabis industry.
From tech companies to breweries, cannabis businesses to startups, Katy uses her razor-sharp legal skills to enable California’s brightest stars to do what they do best: focus on their businesses and their lives while she handles the disputes that are holding them back.
When she’s not securing victories for her clients, she’s likely camping with her two children, cooking for friends, or planning her next beach vacation.