3 Ways Law Firm CMOs Should Promote Cannabis Work in 2020

As more states across the country legalize the sale of adult-use cannabis, many chief marketing officers at midsize and large law firms are debating how to market their attorneys who work with clients in the cannabis industry.

While cautious CMOs and managing partners may be inclined to keep that work under wraps and out of public view, the projected growth of the cannabis industry is fast making that approach antiquated and could stand in the way of new cannabis business.      

And, according to industry projections, the business will continue to be there. A report issued by New Frontier Data and Global Cannabinoids in September 2019 shows that total legal sales of cannabis in current legal states are projected to reach nearly $30 billion by 2025.

The report, “The U.S. Cannabis Report 2019 Industry Outlook,” also says that the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of legal sales will skyrocket 14% over the next six years.

The cannabis industry is full of opportunities for midsize and large law firms. And more firms are taking on cannabis clients and even forming stand-alone cannabis practice groups.

But those law firms, while demonstrating ingenuity and progressive values, face uncertainties about exactly how to market their cannabis work. And that uncertainty is understandable; as of right now, only 11 states (plus Washington DC) have legalized cannabis for adults over 21. So this is a relatively new industry sector for law firms.

Fortunately, a playbook is developing. These steps can help CMOs gain visibility for attorneys and practice groups working on cannabis matters:

  1. Pitch attorneys as subject-matter experts to reporters at both cannabis industry B2B publications and traditional news outlets. As the cannabis industry matures and changes, reporters are and will be writing M&A/transactional stories. Furthermore, reporters are writing stories about new labor and employment issues popping up because of cannabis legalization, as well as the complex trademarking issues cannabis companies are currently experiencing with their products.
  2. Write thought leadership/commentary pieces. Like with any other topic, thought leadership and commentary articles written about relevant legal topics in the cannabis industry demonstrate attorneys’ knowledge of industry trends and best practices and help them build their profiles.
  3. Consider promoting attorneys as a cannabis practice group. At many firms, attorneys that work on cannabis matters are spread across several practice areas. But when pitching potential cannabis clients, consider presenting the attorneys as a cohesive “team” of attorneys that can help solve cannabis business problems. Don’t silo the attorneys off from each other based on traditional practice group distinctions.

The cannabis industry — and the legal work that cannabis clients will need — is constantly changing. Support your attorneys in creating a marketing plan that will present them as a varied team with depth and breadth in the cannabis industry.