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Meet Matthew Shapiro of The Law Offices of Matthew Shapiro in Downtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Matthew Shapiro.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
While attending University of San Diego (2009-2013) for both a law degree (JD) and a masters in business (MBA), I began a clerkship at a local law firm (The Law Offices of Michael Cindrich) specializing in cannabis law. After passing the bar exam, the firm hired me on as their first full-time associate attorney. During my time as an associate, I spent the majority of my time focusing on criminal defense, along with corporate and real estate law as it pertains to the rapidly expanding and changing cannabis industry.

I launched my own cannabis law practice in January of 2015 and have focused on providing a combination of excellent customer service along with top-notch legal representation. My practice has steadily grown as my experience and reputation grows. Along with the cannabis industry at large, the focus of my practice has shifted significantly from criminal defense into higher level corporate law, local and state licensing, and even civil litigation.

I am happy to be spending most of my time these days helping clients launch successful businesses compliant with the many nuanced regulations for the industry as opposed to assisting American citizens being unjustly prosecuted by their own government for acts that have been legal for decades. Although it was always gratifying to have unjust cases dismissed, it was very unfortunate to bear such personal witness to people having their lives turned upside down by law enforcement and prosecuting agencies stuck in the past with little regard or awareness of the current state of the law.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Although my business has experienced a steady growth since being launched, the majority of the problems that have arisen has stemmed from the uncertainty and complete and utter lack of clarity as it pertains to cannabis policy on a local, state and even federal level. Advising cannabis clients can be quite challenging because all too often very reasonable and relatively simple questions might be extremely nuanced or sometimes even unanswerable altogether.

During a conversation I had with Justice Scalia at a luncheon in San Diego, he commented that the state of cannabis law was clearly and unambiguously a failure of government. I wholeheartedly agreed at the time and continue to do so to this day. It is extremely unfortunate that many individuals and businesses are made to suffer because the government, at many different levels, refuses to put in place straightforward coherent rules for the cannabis industry.

The law is intended to serve as a code of conduct in regards to what actions can and can’t be undertaken. In this sector, for the time being, the law is not serving this purpose.

The Law Offices of Matthew Shapiro – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
My law firm specializes in assisting clients, as individuals or businesses, become aware of their rights and maintain compliance with the rules and regulations, as dynamic and ever-changing as they may be. I have a strong track record in criminal courts as a defense attorney for marijuana cases, with a number of cases in which I secured the return of copious amounts of ganja for wrongfully prosecuted clients. Today, I am working with many clients towards licensure under the states new regulatory framework.

What I am most proud of is my history with taking pro bono or near pro bono cases for clients that were serving time in jail awaiting trial because they couldn’t afford bail. I was able to secure the expedited release of these clients on the basis that they were sitting in jail for an act that didn’t even constitute a crime. The ignorance, willful or not, on the part of law enforcement and prosecuting agencies as to the state of cannabis law resulted in many unjust incarcerations and convictions and I am proud to have played a small part in helping people facing these problems.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
While the most fun I’ve had so far in practice has been on any number of the property returns I’ve been a part of where we retook possession of significant amounts of cannabis, the proudest moment was when I secured the release of an in-custody client who I believe was being punished unjustly due to personal conflict between her and her probation officer.

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