About Our Firm

Bright, engaged, and committed to your success.

Meet our awesome team.


The Partners & Team

Join Our Team

Do your skills and mission align with ours?

Submit your resume and tell us a little bit about yourself.


When we’re recognized as leaders in national and international publications, websites and news outlets, it’s because our clients are crushing it.

Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth & protection of the country.​

Gouverneur Morris, Founding Father - 1791

On The Record

When a major publication quotes us for expertise, we like to add their name to a growing colorful list.

la times mg magazine cannabis business executive rolling stone marijuana venture associated press marijuana business daily press democrat cnn daily journal politico modesto bee la weekly entrepreneur magazine san francisco business journal san francisco chronicle wall street joural merry jane santa maria times los angeles daily news new york times cannabis now washington post sensi

Podiums & Powerpoints

Come say hello next time you see us at one of these events where we happily speak to industry and investor audiences across the West Coast about timely and interesting topics.

Cannabis Cultivation Conference

BASF – Bar Association of San Francisco

CBT Conference


California State Association of Counties

International Cannabis Business Association

National Cannabis Industry Association

California Cannabis Industry Association




Future Cannabis Project

Psychedelic Liberty Summit

CalNORML Legal Seminar

Microscopes & Machines

Los Angeles Cannabis Task Force Townhall

California Growers Association

“Meet the Buyers” Hosted by CDA and HCGA

Women of Sensi

Sproutways Growers Meetup

“The Cannabis Connection” Santa Cruz Radio Show

“The Monday Ag Update” San Francisco Bay Area Radio Show

Santa Barbara County Licensing Q&A

Green Trade Santa Cruz

Women Lawyers of Santa Cruz County

Emerald Exchange

Cannabis Business Times Conference

Cannabis In California Law Seminars

Humboldt County Growers Association

Asian Commercial Professionals Association

Santa Clara Bar Association

Appraisal Institute Convention

Meadow Licensing Workshop

Los Angeles County Bar Association

Nevada County Cannabis Alliance

Business of Marijuana

Environmental Law Conference

Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP)

APA Planning & Law Division


We Work Where You Work

We represent our clients in every corner, nook, cranny, and metropolis of the Golden State.

Our network of clients and experience working with local and state governments all over the State of California means we’ve got you covered.

Where We'll Bring You Coffee

In addition to meeting with you in greenhouses, loading docks, office buildings, and city council meetings all over the map, here are the places where we have actual offices where you can come see us in person just like the olden days.

2425 Olympic Blvd, Ste 4000W
Santa Monica, CA 90404

4500 Park Granada Blvd.
Suite 202, Office 202
Calabasas, CA 91302

201 Spear Street, Ste 1100
San Francisco, CA 94105

Local, Remote

310 N. Mount Shasta Blvd, Ste 7
Mt. Shasta, CA 96067

Contact Us

Pick up the phone.

(877) 257-2442

Drop us a line.


Send us a message.

Ariel Clark


Ariel Clark is one of California’s best and most dedicated business attorneys advising clients in highly regulated and emerging markets.

For over a decade, Ariel has been in the trenches of cannabis law and drug policy reform, helping to enact ecosystem-defining regulations while being deeply committed to her clients — leading operators, entrepreneurs, innovators, investors, and healers. When the idea of a robust and regulated cannabis supply chain was considered impossibly out-of-the-box, she committed her practice to the space — foresight that was recognized by Rolling Stone, which named her one of 18 “Women Shaping The Culture of Tomorrow.” Ariel’s hard work, intelligence, and tenacity have earned her a national reputation as one of the fiercest lawyers in the drug reform and emerging medicines space.

Ariel works closely with clients on a myriad of regulatory and legal challenges in her role as outside general counsel. As the world embraces emerging medicines, hemp, and other natural and synthetic compounds and materials, Ariel’s extensive legal and political expertise provide valuable counsel to other trailblazers building successful and impactful companies, products, and services.

Ariel’s nationally-recognized leadership is reflected in her inclusion in, among other accolades, Cannabis Business Executive’s “75 Most Important Women in Cannabis”; mg Magazine’s “30 Most Powerful Cannabis Lawyers”; Cannabis Law Report’s “Global Top 200 Cannabis Lawyers”; and Entrepreneur’s “Top 100 Cannabis Leaders.”

Ariel is General Legal Counsel to Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines and is a member of the Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants. She is a founding Board Member of the Psychedelic Bar Association, as well as a Founding Member and on the Executive Committee of the Cannabis Law Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. She co-founded the Cannaboss Womxn’s Circle, an active community of professionals collectively advancing feminine leadership in the industry. Ariel’s other affiliations have included the International Cannabis Bar Association, California Native American Cannabis Association, California and National Cannabis Industry Associations, and California Growers Association. 

Ariel has been involved in numerous policy-change organizations, one of which was the Los Angeles Cannabis Task Force, which Ariel founded and ran. The Task Force was instrumental in the passage of Measure M, which authorized the creation of a legal, regulated industry in LA. Over the last ten years, she has advised many other trade associations and drug policy reform organizations on regulatory and legal issues.

Prior to founding Clark Howell LLP (originally Clark Neubert LLP), Ariel captained her own firm and worked with California Indian Legal Services in Oakland, Santa Rosa, and Eureka. Her holistic, forward-thinking, and thorough approach to law – coupled with deep policy expertise and progressive vision – is of enormous benefit to clients, colleagues, and fellow paradigm-shifters.

Nicole Howell


Nicole Howell is one of California’s most effective and respected cannabis business and regulatory attorneys.

Industry executives, private investors, and public companies turn to Nicole for her perspective and proven track record in advising the industry’s most successful operators through California’s challenging and dynamic market.

In serving as general counsel to the state’s movers and shakers, Nicole has guided her clients over the major (and novel) corporate and regulatory hurdles unique to a market in its first decade of existence. Her role as lead regulatory counsel in successfully closing one of 2019’s largest and highest profile Canadian public company acquisitions of a beloved California enterprise demonstrates her skill in navigating bet-the-deal matters of first impression. Her work in structuring the legal framework for the state’s most innovative and fastest growing delivery provider illustrates her dedication to rolling up her sleeves to craft creative legal solutions that fuel business growth. Bold businesses and brands rely on Nicole’s counsel to be rooted in a rich understanding of the nuances, rules, and relationships that go into winning a successful outcome.

Nicole works actively with local and state legislative and regulatory efforts, having served as a member of State Treasurer John Chiang’s Cannabis Banking Working Group, as Chief Policy Advisor to the California Growers Association, on the Board of California NORML, and currently is involved in other industry and business related organizations, including the National and California Cannabis Industry Associations, International Cannabis Bar Association, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and the Executive Committee of the Cannabis Section for the San Francisco Bar Association.

Nicole has been recognized as one of the top 75 “Most Important Women in Cannabis” by Cannabis Business Executive, of the “30 Most Powerful Cannabis Lawyers” by MG Magazine, annually ranked by Super Lawyers magazine since 2012, and recognized for several years running as an “Attorney to Watch” by Chambers and Partners USA. In 2018, the firm was recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine in the nation’s top five cannabis firms. Nicole regularly speaks, teaches, and writes on the topics of cannabis and hemp business and regulatory law, and the decriminalization of plant medicines and other emerging therapeutics.

Nicole is a Founding Board member of the Psychedelic Bar Association, an organization inviting lawyers to collaborate in making the practice of law in the psychedelic space truly soul-manifesting (that is, “psychedelic”).  She currently serves as Co-Interim Executive Director.

Prior to founding Clark Howell LLP (originally Clark Neubert LLP) Nicole practiced law at the San Francisco firms Clarence Dyer & Cohen LLP and Farella Braun + Martel LLP, where she earned a reputation as a tenacious, solution-oriented advocate in high stakes, parallel civil, criminal, and regulatory matters.

Jay Purcell


Jay Purcell is a senior corporate and securities lawyer who represents cultivators, manufacturers, distributors and retailers, and the investors who back them. Leveraging training in Silicon Valley and Clark Howell’s deal volume, Jay offers experience and sophistication in a volatile environment. He counsels founders, companies, investors, collectives/cooperatives, LLCs, public benefit corporations and non-profit mutual/public benefit corporations on financing, growth and exits (including conversions). Most of his practice is dedicated to structuring transactions with licensees, investors and founders, including operating agreements, debt and equity financing, key employee onboarding/separation and mergers/acquisitions. He works for social equity founders and for investors in social equity companies.

Jay’s recent representations include: acquisition of Sacramento and San Francisco web-based businesses; company-side financing for edibles company (San Francisco); buy-side acquisition for multiple Los Angeles licensed businesses, including EMMDs; company-side financing for LA Tier 1 Social Equity company; investor-side takeover and financing of Hayward dispensary; buy-side acquisition of dispensary, manufacturing and distribution businesses (San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma); formation, operating agreement and conversion of data analytics company; board advice and structuring for statewide cultivation co-op; company-side renegotiation of loan and lease for San Francisco cultivation and distribution business; landlord takeover of distressed-dispensary (Irvine); founder-side licensing of IP to edibles business (North Bay and national); investor-side transaction into San Fernando Valley cultivation business; company-side sale of Los Angeles dispensary, manufacturing and distribution business to MSO; founder buy-out/separation of Southern California dispensary (El Monte); multiple company-side financings for social equity retail businesses (San Francisco); sponsor-side financing and structuring for Watsonville cultivation and distribution project; lender negotiated takeover for cultivation, manufacture, distribution and retail businesses (Humboldt); financing of legacy operator cultivation business (Humboldt); and, buy-side acquisition of testing laboratory (Los Angeles).

Before 2016, Jay worked as a corporate attorney for tech companies. Beginning at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, P.C., he was trained to represent businesses from idea-to-exit, concentrating on corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, and general corporate matters. Representative clients included Google Ventures, Founders Fund, DIA Styling, FireEye, Curse, SurfAir and companies that were sold to Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. In 2016, Jay transitioned to a full-time cannabis practice, where the goal remains the same: helping little companies become big companies.

While at Berkeley, Jay won a fellowship from the Center for Emerging and Neglected Diseases, helped organize a global IP collaboration for access to essential medicines, was an extern at Berkeley’s Office of Intellectual Property & Industrial Research Alliances and received an American Jurisprudence Prize. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Berkeley Law Alumni Association.

Jay regularly writes and speaks on corporate-related cannabis law and has presented to audiences at ArcView, Cannabis Business Executive, Berkeley Law School, Stanford Law School, Humboldt County Grower’s Alliance, the Cannabis World Expo, the Skirball Cultural Center, and the Future Cannabis Project, among others.

Heather Kirlin


Heather Kirlin brings to the firm over 15 years of experience representing companies in all stages of their life cycles, from formation to exit. She advises clients on a broad range of business transactions, including entity formation, mergers and acquisitions, debt and equity financings, redemptions and cross-purchases, joint ventures, executive employment agreements, and negotiating and drafting a wide range of commercial agreements.

Heather has particular expertise in the area of business acquisitions, having acted as lead M&A counsel representing both buyers and sellers in numerous stock purchase, asset purchase and merger transactions for clients in a variety of industries. Heather also has extensive experience in helping co-owners negotiate and define the terms of their internal business relationship in partnership agreements, operating agreements and shareholders’ agreements. At Clark Howell, Heather applies her years of experience as a corporate attorney to helping clients in the cannabis industry find practical solutions to complex matters.

Heather is a native of California, and grew up in Napa, where her family owned a vineyard and a winery. Heather also previously owned a business representing small, family-owned wineries in Sonoma in a collective tasting room. This background in the wine industry has instilled in Heather a deep appreciation of plants, nature and all things that grow, while also giving her a deep understanding of the unique challenges of operating a business in a highly regulated landscape. Applying her legal skills to the cannabis industry is a natural extension of this background, allowing Heather to draw on her experience to tailor pragmatic solutions to the legal issues cannabis businesses face.

Prior to joining the firm, Heather was a partner at the well-respected San Francisco firm Greene Radovsky Maloney Share & Hennigh LLP, where she specialized in business transactions for a diverse client base, including real estate companies, retail businesses, professional service providers, agribusinesses, and technology companies.

Daniel Dersham


Dan Dersham’s practice centers on commercial real estate transactions, regulatory compliance, and commercial litigation.  His success in federal and state trials, arbitrations, and mediations has made him a sought-after legal adviser not only for corporate clients, but also for individual owners, investors, developers, and landlords seeking representation on a variety of real estate issues and disputes, such as leasing, land use, and regulatory compliance in highly regulated industries.  

Dan regularly represents commercial landlords and tenants in negotiating and structuring leases, tenant buildouts, and new construction. He also regularly represents investors, developers, corporate clients, and individuals in purchasing, selling, financing, and developing commercial properties, including the acquisition of entitlements.  Dan’s clients are among the industry’s fastest growing and well-positioned property and business owners, strategically leveraging assets to diversify clients and portfolios.

Prior to joining Clark Howell, Daniel was a partner at a San Francisco boutique business and litigation firm and an associate at a prominent west coast firm specializing in highly regulated industries.

Nicole Laggner


Nicole Laggner is a highly effective and client focused attorney focusing her practice on supply chain transactions, regulatory compliance, corporate and intellectual property transactions, and local and state permitting and licensing matters. She successfully assists clients with business formation and transactional matters, including B2B contracts, equity and loan instruments, and intellectual property licensing agreements. In addition, Nicole appears before city councils, community forums, and other local regulatory bodies to advocate for the firm’s clients.

Nicole has extensive experience with all aspects of cannabis business formation and compliant operations, including license applications, zoning and land use issues, lobbying with local government, real estate and leasing matters, and corporate formation. Additionally, she has successfully settled license denials, breach of contract, and employment discrimination suits in the cannabis field. Nicole advises cannabis businesses on all aspects of regulatory compliance, including internal operations, packaging and labeling requirements, workplace protocols, and vendor contracts.

Before joining Clark Howell, Nicole practiced in the environmental and business litigation groups at international law firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton where she handled complex business litigation, representing clients such as R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Hanes Brands, Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation, and the class of plaintiff beneficiaries of Individual Indian Money trust accounts, known as Elouise Pepion Cobell, et al.

Nicole enjoys working with a diverse range of clients and values the strong relationships she builds with them. She has extensive experience advising and representing cannabis clients at every stage of their businesses. Nicole thrives on and excels at assisting clients achieve their goals and become leaders in this emerging industry.

Molly Ryan

Operations Manager

Molly is the captain of the helm for Clark Howell operations. With over a decade of experience as an executive level administrator, Molly expertly manages all integral administrative and operational matters for the firm while providing project and scheduling support to our attorney team.

Molly draws from her extensive work in educational giving foundations, her counseling experience and academic research, and her work with diverse adult student populations to cater to our clients. Molly is a passionate advocate for legal access to cannabis for medical and adult use.

Katie Podein


Client advocacy is Katie Podein’s passion. Combining a background in cannabis business, municipal, and intellectual property law, Katie provides clients with an advantage by discovering new licensing and commercial opportunities utilizing her vast network of industry and government contacts. Katie helps clients grow strategically and compliantly.

Katie has been with the industry from the start of regulation when she began providing general counsel services to cannabis companies throughout the supply chain in 2015. She advises clients on all manner of operations from daily legal issues – compliance, contracts, intellectual property, litigation, and employment – to strategy for supply chain and corporate transactions. Moreover, Katie is a problem solver who has successfully negotiated resolution of pre-litigation partnership disputes, personal injury, and employment claims. 

Katie’s intellectual property background includes litigating infringement claims in federal and state court, structuring and negotiating licensing agreements, intellectual property settlement agreements, and USPTO Office Action responses. She counseled clients on trademark, copyright, and business entity formation, including the registration and protection of works.

Prior to focusing on the cannabis industry, Katie served as a deputy city attorney, advising city councils and planning commissions on land use, economic development, and tax allocation. Katie has drafted numerous city ordinances, regulations, and staff reports on local laws, litigation, and real estate development. This lends itself to Katie’s continued work with municipal and state agencies on cannabis and hemp laws, including the presentation of draft ordinances for cannabis licensing and regulation. Additionally, Katie applies this municipal law expertise to guide the firm’s clients with real estate acquisition, licensing, and compliance. Katie’s deep understanding of the laws and regulations allows cannabis businesses maximize their profits while avoiding the financial pitfalls of a heavily regulated industry. 

Katie’s respect for cannabis entrepreneurs and experience understanding the problems and opportunities they face is evident by her personalized legal services. From fielding daily compliance questions to big picture thinking, Katie offers strategic, tailored solutions to a wide range of client needs.