Lara L. DeCaro is a corporate counselor and mediator with over 20 years of experience in the areas of corporate governance and compliance, intellectual property and brand protection, commercial transactions, real property, and mediation. Lara is the partner in charge of both the Cannabis Law Group and the Trademark Group, and she founded our Diversity Committee. She is licensed to practice law in California, Colorado, and New Mexico.
From the start, most of Lara’s clients came from highly-regulated industries, and she translated that knowledge into a comprehensive cannabis business practice before it was hip—over 13 years ago. Her clients range from OG mom and pops to large scale, publicly traded MSOs. Regardless of industry or size, Lara is fortunate to like the people whom she also calls clients, which include numerous manufacturers, retailers, cultivators, laboratories, event venues, entertainment providers, art galleries, authors, banks, recycling companies, investors, franchisors, and even an airport.
Lara’s accomplishments in the cannabis law sector include:
- Being named to Chambers and Partners top cannabis attorneys.
- Providing testimony on cannabis policy reform, upon invitation, to elected members of the Irish Parliament and their invitees at Leinster House in Dublin, Ireland.
- Regularly presenting at US and international cannabis law events.
- Developing the strategy and leading the team that successfully defeated the United States Attorney for the Northern District of California in forfeiture proceedings against an East Bay cannabis retailer from 2013-2016.
- Acting as lead counsel on multiple acquisitions of cannabis-related assets by publicly traded Canadian companies.
- Creating and helping to launch the San Francisco Cannabis Equity Program pro bono panel to provide meaningful representation to social equity applicants, which program was used as a model by Los Angeles for a similar program.
- Acting as a founding board member, former executive officer, and current advisory board member of the International Cannabis Bar Association, an association of nearly 1000 attorneys around the globe, that focuses on networking and educational opportunities for counselors offering services to the cannabis community. Lara is the 2021-2022 Chair of the Executive Committee of the Bar Association of San Francisco Cannabis Law Section.
- Assisting in the drafting of the Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE) for Cannabis (with the approval of YCombinator), an open-source document intended to reduce costs of capital raises for California cannabis corporations.
- Personally consulting with the State Bar Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct on the drafting of the ethical rules for California attorneys practicing in cannabis (Formal Opinion No. 2020-202).
- Teaching Cannabis & Finance 101 for City College of San Francisco, is a frequent speaker on various matters of cannabis business law, acts as a regular correspondent on the State of Cannabis News Hour daily podcast, and had the honor of appearing on the August 14, 2020, Weed Wonks podcast.
Lara is now also a founding member of the Psychedelic Bar Association, and is providing services in this new industry, so stay tuned…
Lara commenced her legal career as a litigator in Northern New Mexico, where a brief she authored was submitted to the Supreme Court of Colorado, and made law in her client’s favor. She also successfully defended cannabis and other criminal charges there. Lara later took a position as in-house counsel for a premier company in the risk evaluation software industry and worked at a leading bio-pharmaceutical company in South San Francisco. Both positions served as important career mechanisms that further developed her regulatory compliance skills, intellectual property knowledge, business sense, and transactional experience.
Lara graduated with honors from both the University of Southern California, where she received a double Bachelors’ of Science, and Tulane Law School, where she received a certificate in mediation from the American Arbitration Association on top of her Juris Doctor. She was also a member of the New Mexico Senate Memorial 57 Advisory Council and the New Mexico State Bar Association ADR Committee, which authored the rules in New Mexico for alternative and effective dispute resolution.
In her spare time Lara enjoys live music, skiing, horseback riding, and baseball. She participates in her community by donating legal services to social equity efforts and veterans, and volunteering at her daughters’ schools. Lara lives in San Francisco.
New Mexico, 2000 (inactive)
Tulane Law School, New Orleans, Louisiana,
Honors: Cum Laude
University of Southern California, California,
Honors: Dean’s List
Professional Associations and Memberships
California Bar Associations
Colorado Bar Associations
New Mexico Bar Associations