Overview

About Claire

Claire Mitchell guides retail and non-retail food and beverage alcohol businesses through the complexities of state and federal regulation, finding thoughtful solutions to both legal and business challenges. Clients such as grocers, restaurants, hotel operators, e-commerce retailers, entertainment venues, alcohol brand owners, and beer, wine, and spirits producers seek Claire’s counsel on state and federal liquor licensing strategies, tied house compliance, trade practice regulation, promotional advertising and sponsorship assessments, and contract negotiation. Claire makes it a priority to build strong connections with state and federal regulators, consultants, and trade associations and leverages that network of relationships to help clients overcome regulatory obstacles.

Complementary to her regulatory compliance work, Claire’s practice includes a range of other services such as drafting and negotiating commercial contracts, providing subject matter expertise on food and beverage industry transactions, handling a wide variety of non-liquor business and operational permits and licenses, and defending against alleged administrative violations.

 

“I cannot express how much I appreciate your support on this deal and securing the licensing approvals. [Y]our hard work and expertise enabled us to work through all of the issues that arose…. This is a significant milestone for the company, and your work and expertise plays a direct contribution in ensuring that [the company] is set up for success in Washington. I had complete confidence in you throughout the transaction, and you made my job significantly easier. I know firsthand how much work goes into staying on track of all the moving parts, and you guys made it look easy.”
 —In-House Counsel, National Brewing Company        

 

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Experience

Experience

Representative Alcohol Beverage Licensing and Regulatory Work

Retail Tier

  • Provides ongoing counsel to one of the largest retailers in the world on issues ranging from consumer marketing programs related to alcohol, private label alcohol, direct to consumer sales, state bottle bill requirements, and tied house restrictions.
  • Serves as alcohol licensing and regulatory counsel in Washington and Oregon for a multibillion-dollar instant delivery retailer of alcohol, food, and other consumer goods.
  • Coordinated the process for obtaining spirits retail sales privileges at over 60 locations on behalf of a national grocery store chain.
  • Represented the world’s largest coffeehouse chain in obtaining liquor licenses on a national scale.
  • Assisted a global e-commerce retailer in obtaining a liquor license for its brick and mortar cashless and checkout-free shopping experience, the first such location of its kind in the U.S.
  • Represented multiple international hotel operators in seeking state liquor licenses across the Pacific Northwest.
  • Advocated on behalf of an age restricted living community before the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board in connection with seeking a liquor license for a complex multi-use area.
  • Regularly perform 50-state survey research to determine the permissibility of alcohol advertising promotions, production and distribution of private label alcohol, and the direct shipment of wine on behalf of retail and non-retail liquor licensed companies.
  • Represented a convenience store management company in obtaining state liquor, lottery, tobacco, and over-the-counter medicine sales licenses at multiple stores in multiple states.
  • Work with multiple global cruise lines on alcohol licensing and compliance matters.

Supplier Tier

  • Regularly serves as the lead alcohol regulatory subject matter expert in connection with transactions that involve businesses holding liquor licenses, with a focus on handling alcohol-related due diligence, preparation, and negotiation of corresponding sections of transaction documents, and post-closing licensure and compliance matters.
  • Performs detailed analysis of state tied house and trade practice restrictions on behalf of numerous supplier clients on a national level on an ongoing basis.
  • Handled state alcohol regulatory matters in partnership with the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission in connection with one of the largest winery acquisitions in Oregon’s history on behalf of the buyer.
  • Analyzed alcohol franchise laws in all 50 states in order to draft alcohol distribution agreements on behalf of a large hard seltzer producer in connection with its nationwide product launch.
  • Managed the process for obtaining critical distribution licenses from the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board on behalf of one of the world’s largest brewers and beer distribution companies.
  • Provided strategic guidance to a mid-market wine company in connection with its entry into spirits importation and distribution in a dozen states throughout the U.S.
  • Counseled a Washington-based brewery on a multi-phased expansion involving the licensing of multiple restaurants, a brewery, a beer garden, a live music venue, and other features.
  • Drafted an international contract manufacturing and export agreement on behalf of a U.S.-based tequila brand owner.
  • Assisted one of the nation’s largest contract alcohol producers in obtaining production licenses from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
  • Completed an in-depth analysis of an alcohol producer’s product labels to ensure compliance with Food and Drug Administration, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, and Federal Trade Commission regulations.

Representative Food Regulatory Work

  • Regularly serves as the lead food and FDA regulatory subject matter expert in connection with transactions that involve food and agriculture industry businesses, with a focus on handling regulatory due diligence, preparation and negotiation of corresponding sections of transaction documents, and post-closing licensure and compliance matters.
  • Represented a big-box retailer in product labeling and advertising matters—including labeling claims related to nutrition, safety, country of origin, and environment—to ensure compliance with Food and Drug Administration, Customs and Border Patrol, and Federal Trade Commission regulations.
  • Renegotiated vendor contracts on behalf of a national cheese and dairy product processing company.
  • Frequently counsels food processors, farms, alcohol manufacturers, warehouses, and other businesses on the legal requirements under the Food Safety Modernization Act.
  • Advised multiple food processors and retailers on the legal implications of producing and selling food containing cannabidiol (CBD).
  • Provides guidance to multiple food and agribusiness companies on the permits and licenses necessary for food production, storage, transportation, distribution, and sale on an ongoing basis.
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Honors

Honors & Activities

  • Included in Best Lawyers®: Ones to Watch in America (Corporate Law), 2023
  • Associate Member, National Association of Licensing and Compliance Professionals
  • Member, Alliance of Alcohol Industry Attorneys & Consultants
  • Associate Member, National Conference of State Liquor Administrators
  • Associate Member, National Alcoholic Beverage Control Association
  • Allied Member, Washington State Hospitality Association
  • Secretary, Green Plate Special, April 2015–April 2019
  • Business Development Chair, Washington Women Lawyers, King County Chapter, January 2015–January 2016
  • Member, Operations and Technical Affairs Committee, Northwest Food Processors Association, 2012–2018
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Insights & Presentations

Insights & Presentations

  • Presenter, “From Mash to Market: A Primer on the Law of Spirits,” Young Lawyers Division Meeting, King County Bar Association, Seattle, WA, April 24, 2019
  • Presenter, “A Primer on the Food Safety Modernization Act for Wineries,” Business of Wine Seminar, Portland, OR, June 6, 2018
  • Presenter, “FDA’s Final Rules Regarding Nutrition Labeling and Serving Sizes,” Operations and Technical Affairs Committee Meeting, Northwest Food Processors Association, Portland, OR, September 20, 2016
  • Presenter, “Trademark Basics: Protecting Your Brand,” Be the Entrepreneur, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID, June 15, 2016
  • Presenter, “U.S. Consumer Protection Law: Focus on Food Labeling Litigation,” 2015 Global Legal Forum, Korea Legislation Research Institute, Seoul, South Korea, November 13, 2015
  • Presenter, “Overcoming the Wage Gap: Panel Discussion,” Diversity Week, Seattle University School of Law, Seattle, WA, February 25, 2015
  • Presenter, “Beef vs. Beer: Breweries & the Food Safety Modernization Act,” Young Lawyers Division Fall Conference, American Bar Association, Portland, OR, October 10, 2014



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