Hannah Follender has quickly established an interesting career in the law since graduating in 2018. She’s currently a U.S. patent attorney at Workman Nydegger in Salt Lake City with an interest in the intersection of law and cannabis.
While at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, she served as the articles editor on the Utah Law Review and also completed a unique international apprenticeship opportunity at Sherby & Co. law firm in Ramat Gan, Israel where she worked on legal issues related to corporate and securities law.
Most recently, Follender helped launch the new Cannabis Law Section of the Utah State Bar. She spoke about her experiences in law school and current profession in a recent Q&A.
Q: What made you interested in going to law school?
A: I grew up in a family of lawyers and was determined to be anything but a lawyer. But when my interests in college gravitated towards political science and conservation biology, it seemed that practicing environmental law would be a natural fit.
Q: What do you do today? How did your time at the law school shape and/or help what you are currently doing?
A: I am a registered patent attorney working primarily in patent and trademark prosecution and trademark enforcement. I did not know what “IP” even stood for until I started at SJQ. I mentioned my undergraduate background at a meet-and-greet event and was quickly told that my biology background made me eligible to take the patent bar.
Q: What is one memorable experience from law school that will always stay with you?
A: I really enjoyed Professor Guiora’s counterterrorism simulation. It was a very unique experience because the structure is different from any other law school class. Working with a team in a high pressure situation requiring quick decision-making is a skill that isn’t practiced very often in law school.
Q; Outside of work, tell us about something interesting that you like to do?
A: I moved to Utah for the skiing, and that’s where I spend all of my free time in the winter. I am currently working towards becoming an avalanche course instructor.
Q: You recently founded the Cannabis Law Section of the Utah State Bar. Tell us about your work in establishing this group and how this section will support cannabis law at an interesting time in history.
A: In November 2018, the majority of Utah voters passed Proposition 2 – the Medical Marijuana Initiative, providing for patient access to medical cannabis. This proposition became the subject of legislative compromise, and out of that compromise came H.B. 3001 – Utah Medical Cannabis Act. H.B. 3001 and the amendments incorporated by S.B. 1002 provide for the cultivation, processing and dispensing of medical cannabis to patients in Utah beginning March 1, 2020. This frame work is not only brand new, but still in flux at the legislative level. The laws and issues around cannabis impact nearly every area of law, from criminal law and healthcare, to intellectual property and environmental law. Utah needs attorneys who are versed in where the law currently stands, where it is going, and how their practice areas are—and will be—impacted, and what this means for their clients. I attended and spoke at the ABA’s first cannabis CLE conference in September 2019, and it was there that I decided a Cannabis Law Section would be the best way to bring the cannabis discussion to Utah. The Cannabis Law Section hosted our first CLE at the Utah Law & Justice Center on Feb. 19 with an impressive turnout of over 50 attorneys.
(Editor’s note: Follender also helped to organize a CLE scheduled to take place on April 25 at Utah Cann – Utah’s Cannabis Conference. That event is postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but will take place in the future).