My name is Karen Bernstein and I’m the Managing Partner of Bernstein IP, a New York City intellectual property firm. I’m admitted to practice law in New York, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. Bernstein IP has been around since 2007 after I was associated with two Park Avenue law firms.
My story begins in Philadelphia where I was born. In 1985, way before I became a lawyer, I moved to San Francisco and couched surfed with friends for two months until I landed my first apartment. One said couch was located in the Haight-Asbury District where four young gay men were kind enough to let me stay in their purple Victorian house during the height of the AIDS crisis. I also found my way to Alamo Square where none other than the late Larry Harvey, the co-founder of Burning Man lived. Yep, I’m an original Burner having attended the first Burning Man at Baker Beach in San Francisco in 1986 and also the second one in 1987.
Sadly, my Haight-Asbury guys whom I spent many hours laughing and writing music with in the Victorian purple house would all eventually pass away from contracting AIDS. It was devastating how AIDS destroyed the lives of not only my friends, but many in the gay community whose young lives were cut short. At the time, cannabis was one of the only things that helped my friends to alleviate their pain, and it catapulted me to take action to raise money for AIDS research -- be it by marching in parades and participating in AIDS fundraising events like the original AIDS Danceathon. I voted in 1996 for Prop 64 to legalize medical Cannabis in California, and then a year later, I moved back East to attend New England Law in Boston where I graduated in 2001 at age 37. I guess you could call me a late bloomer.
Around 2013, years before medical cannabis was legal on the East Coast, one of my colleagues introduced me to Troy Dayton, the CEO of Arcview (a private investment conference for Accredited Investors in the legal cannabis space) to help the company with its IP needs. Living on the East Coast, I wasn’t really aware of what was going on in the burgeoning legal cannabis industry until I attended an Arcview meeting. I couldn’t believe that there was actually a forum for wealthy people to invest in our “next greatest industry,” and it was an eye opening experience to see cannabis investors who understood that it wasn’t all about the money and that anyone touched by cannabis must also be an activist in advancing the cause.
Learning by my experiences with Arcview investors, I support causes like Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the Marijuana Policy Project, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), and others. I’m also a member of the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Cannabis Law and Chair of NCIA’s Packaging and Labeling Committee. I recently attended NCIA’s Lobby Days in Washington, D.C. on behalf of NCIA, where we lobbied members of Congress to pass the SAFE Banking Act and to reverse the 280E issue. While in D.C., I also advocated on behalf of my fellow cannabis trademark lawyers to push through legislation to permit federal trademark protection for plant-touching businesses to export cannabis and cannabis brands to other countries, which would contribute substantially to our country’s GDP.
I strongly believe that my passion for the plant and for changing laws will help advance INCBA’s goals with increasing membership and outreach and advocating for causes that affect our cannabis clients and the cannabis bar as a whole.
Please vote for me in the upcoming election to serve on the INCBA Board and feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your consideration.