Lara L. DeCaro prides herself on helping people and businesses solve problems in a creative, affordable way.
Lara is a full-service business counselor and third-party neutral with almost 25 years of experience in the areas of corporate governance, regulatory compliance, employment, intellectual property and brand protection, commercial transactions, and real property, and as the neutral in both mediations and arbitrations. Her deep understanding of business and focus on innovative, forward movement make her an excellent problem-solver. Her deep commitment to drug policy reform and mental health makes her an enthusiastic and passionate counselor in emerging medicinal and adult-use markets. Lara is also a founding member of the Psychedelic Bar Association and looks forward to continuing her work with the industry as rules and laws develop, including being an active part of that development, and assisting clients in shaping those policies.
Her first year out of law school, a brief Lara 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 risk evaluation software company 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 Bachelor 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.
At LPS, she is the partner in charge of both the Cannabis Law Group and the Trademark Group, and she co-founded the LPS 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—circa 2008. 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 cannabis companies, psychedelic producers, alcohol brands, event venues, entertainment providers, art galleries, authors, banks, recycling companies, investors, franchisors, and even an airport.
Lara’s accomplishments in the cannabis law sector, specifically, include:
- Being named to Chambers and Partners top cannabis attorneys without applying.
- 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 panelto 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.
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.
- Formulated the winning argument in the US Attorney’s attempt to seize real property occupied by Berkeley Patients Group
- Served as an expert witness in both criminal and civil cannabis cases
- Founding member of the Psychedelic Bar Association and active committee member
- Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Business & Corporate Transactions
- General Counsel Services
- Intellectual Property
- Psychedelics, Cannabis, & Hemp Laws
- Real Estate & Construction
- New Mexico (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 Association
- Colorado Bar Association
- New Mexico Bar Association
- International Cannabis Bar Association
Founder, Founding Board Member, Founding Secretary, Advisory Board Member
- Bar Association of San Francisco
Founding Executive Committee Member, Committee Chairperson
- Psychedelics Bar Association
Member, Corporate Forms & Business Practices Committee Member