Adrian F. Snead is an attorney in Holland & Knight's Washington, D.C., office and a member of the firm's Litigation and Dispute Resolution and White Collar Defense and Investigations practices.

Mr. Snead focuses on complex business and contract disputes, litigating against foreign sovereigns, mass torts, white collar defense and national security cases. His experience includes work in federal and state civil and criminal trials, domestic and international arbitrations, mediations and national security law. He also has experience working in all three branches of the federal government and as a trial preparation assistant with the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

Prior to joining Holland & Knight, Mr. Snead worked at both a national and an international law firm, where he focused in complex business disputes as well as international and domestic arbitrations. He also served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Royce C. Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, handling national security, civil and criminal cases. During law school, he served as a White House intern in the Domestic Policy Council and spent more than a year interning at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in both the civil rights and criminal divisions.

From 2014 to 2017, Mr. Snead served as counsel and foreign policy advisor to U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Appropriations and Foreign Relations committees and one of the principal architects of early cannabis reform legislation. Mr. Snead's portfolio included national security, military and foreign affairs, cannabis, privacy, civil liberties, civil rights, criminal justice, veterans, immigration, campaign finance, sanctions, and related appropriations and foreign relations committee assignments. Mr. Snead was the lead counsel reviewing and editing several congressional amicus briefs that Sen. Merkley led. These include Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, arguing that LGBTQ status is included under the definition of "sex" in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and The New York Times Company v. United States Department of Justice in the Second Circuit, arguing for release under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) of a number of Office of Legal Counsel memoranda related to targeted drone strikes, including one that involved strikes against American citizens.

In his time with Sen. Merkley, Mr. Snead was principally responsible for drafting the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015, SAFE Banking Act of 2017, several cannabis-related appropriations amendments and founded the Senate Staff Working Group on Cannabis Reform. He also drafted a number of appropriations amendments and appropriations report language, handled Sen. Merkley's foreign policy portfolio, accompanied senators and House members on several foreign congressional delegations, and worked directly with federal agencies on policy for Sen. Merkley.

Representative Experience

  • Represented a plaintiff government contractor in Wye Oak Technology, Inc. v. Republic of Iraq and Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq, a breach of contract case against the post-Saddam Iraqi government; client received an approximate $89 million award after a bench trial; reported decision available at Wye Oak Technology, Inc. v. Republic of Iraq et al., 10-cv-1182 (D.D.C.)
  • Represented more than two dozen members of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate in an amicus brief in Hemp Industry Association, et al. v. Drug Enforcement Administration, et al., a Ninth Circuit appeal of U.S. Drug and Enforcement Administration (DEA) rulemaking related to hemp
  • Represented approximately 600 plaintiffs in Louisiana environmental tort mass action against a landfill and the local parish
  • Represented a plaintiff illegally imprisoned for nearly three years in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights case against the District of Columbia
  • Represented a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case where a hospital stereotyped a young African American male and provided substandard treatments, resulting in lifelong paralysis
  • Represented a defendant in a federal white collar criminal matter
  • Represented a billion-dollar government contractor in a multimillion-dollar business conspiracy case, which ended with a favorable settlement for the client
  • Represented a plaintiff in a business dispute among partners, which resulted in a successful mediation
  • Represented a New York real estate investor in an International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) arbitration related to a faulty HVAC system, which ended with a favorable settlement for the client
  • Represented three senior ex-CIA officers as plaintiffs in an arbitration against a billionaire involving breach of contract related to Iraqi oil, which resulted in a favorable award for the clients
  • Represented a plaintiff in the first investor-state arbitration brought pursuant to the Central American Free Trade Agreement and heard at the World Bank's International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), which ended with favorable award for the client; reported decision at Railroad Development Corporation v. Republic of Guatemala, ICSID Case No. ARB/07/23


  • The George Washington University Law School, J.D.
  • The University of Texas at Austin, B.A., Government, with high honors and special honors in government
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • District of Columbia
  • New York
Court Admissions
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • American Bar Association, Vice Chair, Cannabis Law and Policy Committee
  • Hispanic National Bar Association
  • Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia
Honors & Awards
  • Holland & Knight Pro Bono All-Star, 2020, 2021
  • National Law Journal, Hill Hot List, 2015
  • J.B. and Maurice Shapiro Public Service Fellowship, The George Washington University Law School, 2010
  • Presidential Merit Scholarship, The George Washington University Law School, 2008–2011
  • Normandy Scholar, The University of Texas at Austin, 2006


Speaking Engagements