Anne van Leynseele is an exceptional example when it comes to women in the field of law. Her determination towards achieving what she wants has empowered her to become a successful corporate cannabis lawyer and trusted business advisor. She holds four degrees and has owned several companies in diverse industries. Her expertise helped her become internationally known as a cannabis and hemp expert. Here are three ways in which Anne empowers women working in cannabis law.
1. Being brave and confident
Growing up with three brothers, Anne’s idyllic childhood helped build her into the person she is today. Even as a child, she loved to explore ideas and questioned everything in the world. Her parents provided her with intellectual challenges that exercised her exceptional mind and fostered her, “I can do anything mindset”. This encouraged her to question the status quo, a trait that has served her well throughout her life and career in maledominated industries. Anne worked full time as a law clerk while attending law school, the scholastic and practical experiences worked well together to allow her to truly discover and maximize her potential.
2. Intellectually challenging herself
Anne was never happy with the convoluted and unfair systems around her. She witnessed people struggling around her and hoped to paraphrase an inspirational lawyer, Gandhi, “become the change she wished to see”. To this end, despite juggling a full time job at a large law firm and night school, she created with a publication called “The Layperson’s Guide to Breast Cancer” a resource on the complex life and institutional issues faced by women dealing with breast cancer. To her delight with the support of a professor, the document helped land her the opportunity to work as a federal attorney advisor in Washington DC for the first Obama Administration. After four years, she returned to Washington State, where she again encountered unfair treatment when she came across an article stating that the federal Bureau of Reclamation was denying water rights to legally licensed cannabis growers. With this, Anne knew she had to help the entrepreneurs in the newly formed cannabis industry. Hence began the journey of Anne as a founder of 7 Point Law, previously known as Northwest Marijuana Law.
This new industry taught her the complexities and history of cultivation, processing, and sales of cannabis established under legalized medical systems. With this knowledge, she utilizes her expertise in legal cannabis and hemp. When she started her firm, she was all alone, most of the other lawyers practicing cannabis law were criminal lawyers. However, she persisted and kept her integrity; within a year she came to represent 118 clients all across Washington state and by 2017 she was representing a quarter of Washington’s legal cannabis industry. Along the way, she was often surprised to find the rampant criminal behavior that carried over from the blackmarket marijuana days, and is still present in the cannabis industry today. The dissolution of her partnership emphasised the corruption and greed present in the professionals supporting the industry.
Her goal is to share what few attorneys have, that is, frontline experience with the countless number of problems cannabis companies face. Anne’s success is a result of her practice of always looking deeper rather than just the immediate need. For this purpose, she designed the growth of her firm around her business experience by observing the evolution of legal services.
3. Vigilant support of women and minority owned business
During her initial years, seventy percent of her clients were women and minorities; she often worked on a sliding scale of pro-bono. She connected with them as it was easy to share and understand their struggles because she had experienced the slights and injustices of the white male dominated world, just like them. She too was working hard to build up her reputation, putting in long hours, studying regulations, and attending several events a week to present and teach others in the field. Anne has always sought opportunities to help women understand and demand their worth in a world that often diminishes the value of the female management style. She is greatly encouraged by the recent recognition of the value of the introspective decision making and reasoned approach that women take in running companies, whether they are start-up marijuana companies or Fortune 100s. To further inspire other women and minorities whose voices are desperately needed in the cannabis industry, Anne is currently writing a much anticipated memoir on the early days of legal cannabis, which will be published before the end of 2021.