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Washington DC Franchise Attorneys

The “Go-To Guy” For Hardball Franchise Litigation.

– Multi-Unit Franchisee Owner ($3 Million case)

Inner Workings of Franchise Law

The “Go-To Guy” For Hardball Franchise Litigation.

– Multi-Unit Franchisee Owner ($3 Million case)

Franchisee Lawyer Looking Out Window

The “Go-To Guy” For Hardball Franchise Litigation.

– Multi-Unit Franchisee Owner ($3 Million case)

Planning your new franchise

The “Go-To Guy” For Hardball Franchise Litigation.

– Multi-Unit Franchisee Owner ($3 Million case)

Businesswoman opening a franchise

The “Go-To Guy” For Hardball Franchise Litigation.

– Multi-Unit Franchisee Owner ($3 Million case)

Nationally Recognized Franchise, Antitrust, and Commercial Contracts Trial Lawyers

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Esteemed Law Firm Complex Litigation

Global Law Experts Logo

Recommended Firm in Franchise Litigation

Who's Who Attorney Logo

Top Attorney USA – Litigation

Avvo Franchise Lawyer Symbol

Superior Attorney in Franchising

Avvo Franchise Lawyer Symbol

Superior Attorney in Antitrust

Finance Monthly Global Award Winner Logo

Franchise Law Firm of the Year

Lead Counsel logo

Chosen Law Firm for Commercial Litigation

BBB of Washington DC

A+ Rated

Washington DC Chamber of Commerce

Verified Member

Lawyers of Distinction logo

Franchise Law Firm of the Year

ISSUU

Best Law Firm for Franchise Disputes in 2017

Law Awards Finanace Monthly

Franchise Law Firm of the Year

Top Franchise Litigator for Franchisees and Dealers

Top Franchise Litigator for Franchisees and Dealers

2017 Finance Monthly Award

2017 Finance Monthly Award

Testimonials

"Jeff, I am amazed that you were able to get the liquidated damages down that low, which allowed us to avoid bankruptcy. Until we retained you we had been dealing with hotel consultants who appeared to make little head-way in lowering the liquidated damages."

Multi-Unit Hotel Franchisee, Economy Segment
(value over $3 Million)

Get Legal Assistance from Franchise Lawyers Who Defend the Franchisee

The Goldstein Law Firm is a boutique national law firm that represents exclusively franchisees and dealers, not franchisors, suppliers or manufacturers. There are only a handful of franchisee lawyer specialists remaining in the country, as most have begun representing both franchisors and franchisees.

Franchise law is a multifaceted area of law that requires specialization. Any franchise attorney can tell you about a variety of cases where franchise agreements have gone south.

Here at Goldstein, our attorneys have as much as 30 years of experience handling all aspects of franchise litigation throughout the county.

We also specialize in franchise agreement assistance, bringing you the latest developments in franchise and distribution law. With the publishing of our Franchise Trends newsletter, we can help franchisees stay updated on developments concerning different legal aspects of franchising.

Dealing with the complexities and challenges of franchise law requires focus and specialization, which is why we represent dealers and franchisees exclusively. Unlike other firms, we at Goldstein are on the side of the franchisee. We can help you decipher the fine print of your franchise agreement and single out details your franchisor may not want you to know.

Without a knowledgeable and competent franchise consultant, you may be vulnerable to the pitfalls of franchise law. Simply walking away is not a viable solution if you’re looking to protect your assets and yourself from financially damaging consequences. For those who have already signed an agreement and are struggling with franchisor difficulties, our franchise law firm also provides legal assistance through its franchise attorneys.

Frequently Asked Questions on Franchise Law:

Do franchisors have an obligation to their franchisees to act competently?

In theory, it’s possible that a franchise attorney could prove that a franchisor violated a franchise agreement by poorly managing the franchise system. Inadequately capitalizing the franchise system or poorly managing advertising campaigns could potentially violate a franchise agreement.

However, there are few if any recent case findings in which a franchisor has violated the terms of a franchise agreement. And if the franchise agreement hasn’t been violated, the courts almost never support a free-standing claim of negligence against the franchisor.

In other words, courts have held that franchisors do not owe a duty of competence to their franchisees.

It’s interesting to note, however, that many franchise law firms stay busy addressing the flip side of this issue–whether the franchisee has acted negligently in operating his or her franchise

Do franchisors have a duty to provide support to their franchisees?

On paper franchisors have this duty to some degree. Most franchise agreements explicitly set forth the respective duties owed by both the franchisors and franchisees.

However, the provisions outlining those duties owed by franchisors are few and normally too ambiguous to enforce. Most franchise agreements include contractual language stating to the effect that “the franchisor doesn’t guarantee the success of the franchisee.”

In practice, this means that franchisors really don’t have a compelling duty to provide support to their franchisees.

Also, most franchise agreements require franchisees to state in their agreements that their business venture involves risks, one of the most prominent being the business knowledge of the franchisee.

This results in a double standard: The franchisor has only a few ephemeral obligations to the franchisor. But in contrast, the “whereas” provisions in the introduction of most franchise agreements indicate that the franchisor is the undisputed guru in operating franchises in that particular industry.

What are some of the most common duties imposed on franchisors under franchise agreements?

It’s important to recognize that these duties are incredibly limited in scope. That said, they include, among other things: (1) locating appropriate sites for stores, (2) managerial assistance, (3) advertising assistance, (4) providing operating manuals, (5) training, and (6) identifying third party vendors from whom necessary products and services may be sourced.

Keep in mind, these areas are so broadly defined that even the best trial attorney would have difficulty in trying to identify – never mind proving – the contours of such duties unless he or she had extensive experience within a franchise law firm.

Are franchisors permitted to modify their requirements or system standards during the term of the franchise?

Believe it or not, they usually can make these changes. Almost all courts confronted with this question have readily permitted franchisors to change the obligations owed to their franchisees during the term of the franchise.

Franchisors gain this fluidity by lacing their franchise agreements with language that “the franchisor is permitted to modify or change the Operations Manual.” They can then “incorporate by reference” the Operations Manual into the franchise agreement.

The franchisor’s unbridled discretion is further bolstered by language in the franchise agreement that “the franchisor may modify the Operations Manual in its ‘sole discretion.'”

Everybody knows that people and businesses are subject to liability for “negligence.” Can't franchisors be held liable for negligence to their franchisees as well?

The short answer is no, not under the common law of almost every state.

When the franchisee is only claiming economic loss – which is almost always the case -the franchisee must seek its damages through a breach of contract action.

The franchisee would have to prove that the franchisor violated the franchise agreement. This is very difficult to prove, as the franchisor’s duties are usually few, ephemeral, and deliberately vague.

It’s possible a franchisor could be found liable if he or she failed to work in good faith and with fair dealing, but this is a long shot.

Note, however, that courts have found franchisors liable for negligence in certain
cases where personal injuries were involved.

Read more FAQs

Recent Litigation Issues on Franchising, Distribution and Antitrust Law

Franchise Ownership is a Myth

July 21, 2018

In a recent article “Do Franchise Owners Really Own a Business?” Keith Miller addresses franchise ownership head-on:  “Do franchise owners really own a business? That is a very important question. The franchise industry talks about franchise owners as independent business people, working for yourself, but not by yourself. But, what does ownership mean?” https://www.bluemaumau.org/do_franchise_owners_really_own_business Miller goes on to answer: “Usually, if you own something, you have value, or equity, that you can sell. Historically, most franchise agreements contained a “first right of refusal” clause. In most cases, if a franchise owner found a buyer for their franchise, they would first have to offer that to the franchisor under the same terms and conditions.  Unfortunately, for franchise owners, that has taken on a whole new life of its own, with new clauses that eliminate most, if not all, of the equity they have worked to gain in the franchise.” Miller’s insightful observations highlight how franchisor opportunism now blatantly expresses itself directly and explicitly in many current franchise agreements. So long as franchisees and potential franchisees continue to misinterpret (sometimes intentionally) this counterintuitive reality, they will perpetuate the very myth that systematically destroys franchisees on an ongoing basis. It can’t be emphasized enough that franchisees nowadays buy little more than a limited right to receive a token revenue stream for a restricted period of time. These minimal revenue streams frequently are insufficient to allow franchisees to pay all of the aggregate costs associated with their franchises. Under these circumstances it is incorrect […]


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5 Special Considerations for Purchasing a Restaurant Franchise

June 29, 2018

Despite significant growth in other sectors, restaurants remain the predominant force in the franchise industry. According to data published by the International Franchise Association, in 2017 roughly 220,000 of the 744,000 franchised outlets worldwide were quick-service and full-service restaurants. For individuals and business partners contemplating restaurant franchise opportunities, there are a number of important factors to take into consideration. This includes franchise-specific factors, restaurant-specific factors and factors that are relevant to all businesses, generally. From a legal perspective, some of the most-important factors include: 1. Site Selection For restaurant franchises, site selection is of paramount importance. When you are relying on a recognizable brand name to get customers through the door, you need your restaurant to be both highly visible and easily accessible. Nearby businesses are a relevant consideration as well. Are there stores nearby that will bring traffic to the area? Are there competing restaurants (or vacancies for competing restaurants) that will make it difficult to turn a profit? When negotiating your lease, these are just a few of the many issues you will want to address with your landlord. 2. Territorial Protection In the world of franchising, intra-brand competition is an important consideration as well. Ideally, your franchise agreement will provide true territorial exclusivity with a sufficient radius to protect you against losing customers to competing franchisees or the franchisor’s company-owned outlets. 3. Initial Investment and Upgrades Restaurant franchises tend to have large initial investments. When evaluating a restaurant franchise opportunity, it is important to conduct your own […]


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I Received a Notice of Default from My Franchisor. What Should I Do?

June 22, 2018

So, you received a Notice of Default. Whether it came as a surprise or was a long time coming, it showed up in the mail, and now you have to deal with it. What does the Notice of Default mean for the fate of your franchise? What are your legal rights? What are your franchisor’s legal rights? What options do you have available? This article provides a brief introduction to what you need to know. Steps to Take After Receiving a Notice of Default from Your Franchisor If you have received a Notice of Default from your franchisor, taking these steps will help you protect your investment and avoid mistakes that could lead to unnecessary termination of your franchise: Step No. 1: Assess the Validity of the Alleged Default As a franchisee, your legal rights are limited. Even if your state has a franchise relationship law, if you have committed a default, you could be at risk for losing your franchise. So, the first step after receiving a Notice of Default is to assess the validity of your franchisor’s allegations. Have you violated your franchise agreement (i.e. by not paying royalties)? Is there room for interpretation? Or, are your franchisor’s allegations entirely unsubstantiated? Step No. 2: Avoid a Knee-Jerk Response Regardless of whether you believe the Notice of Default is valid, you need to avoid a knee-jerk response. Too often, disgruntled franchisees attempt to retaliate or go public with their grievances on social media. In order to avoid an unnecessary […]


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How Can a Franchise Lawyer Help During the Franchise Buying Process?

June 15, 2018

If you have been doing your research on buying a franchise, you have no doubt heard that you need to hire a franchise lawyer to help you through the process. But, do you know why? If you have made up your mind and the franchisor only offers a standard “form” contract, what is the value in hiring a franchise attorney? Actually, there are several reasons why prospective franchisees need to seek experienced legal representation. Here are just some of the ways that a franchise lawyer can help during the franchise buying process: 1. An Independent Perspective As a prospective franchisee, the primary factors influencing your choice of a particular franchise opportunity are: (i) information you received from the franchisor, and (ii) your personal feelings about the franchise (and, perhaps to a lesser extent, its competitors). A franchise lawyer can offer an independent perspective. Are you viewing the opportunity through rose-colored glasses? Is the franchisor’s sales rep conveniently omitting certain information? An experienced franchise lawyer will be able to take a step back and take personal motivation out of the equation. 2. Industry Insights How does the franchisor really stack up against its competitors? Are its franchise agreement terms on par with those offered throughout the industry? Does the franchisor have a history of litigating with its franchisees? How is the franchisor viewed amongst its peers and industry professionals? While not all franchise lawyers will have these types of insights, one who has been in the industry for decades will have […]


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What Would a Wage Hike Mean for McDonald’s Franchisees?

June 8, 2018

McDonald’s has been in the headlines recently, and not for re-launching the McRib or promoting new healthier side items. Instead, the fast food chain has been in the news because employees around the world have informally begun to demand higher wages in a movement being labeled as, “#McStrike”. While these types of movements usually garner public support, as is often the case, the realities of forcing higher wages at McDonald’s belie the storylines that make for good news. A mandatory wage hike would mean even more financial struggles for franchisees, and it may ultimately do more harm than good for the chain’s frontline workers. The Realities of a Mandatory Wage Hike at McDonald’s While most people tend to think of McDonald’s as a huge corporation with restaurants around the globe, the reality is that “corporate” McDonald’s only owns about 10 percent of the fast food chain’s stores worldwide. The remaining 90 percent are owned by franchisees, many of whom are “mom and pop” operators who have invested their life’s savings in a restaurant with a proven system and a well-known brand. But, despite McDonald’s ubiquity, for most of these franchisees, profit margins are razor thin. On top of making payroll while selling Dollar Menu food items, franchisees must also pay monthly royalties to McDonald’s, and they must constantly make updates and upgrades to accommodate new offerings and changes to the chain’s trade dress and system standards. While many franchisees are able to operate their stores for years, the reality is […]


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Recent Blogs on Franchise, Dealership and Antitrust Law

Franchise Ownership is a Myth

Jul 21, 2018

In a recent article “Do Franchise Owners Really Own a Business?” Keith...


Read More

5 Special Considerations for Purchasing a Restaurant Franchise

Jun 29, 2018

Despite significant growth in other sectors, restaurants remain the...


Read More

I Received a Notice of Default from My Franchisor. What Should I Do?

Jun 22, 2018

So, you received a Notice of Default. Whether it came as a surprise or was...


Read More

How Can a Franchise Lawyer Help During the Franchise Buying Process?

Jun 15, 2018

If you have been doing your research on buying a franchise, you have no...


Read More
Solutions franchise blog image

Reformist Thoughts on Franchise, Dealership, Distribution and Antitrust Law

2017 Best Franchise Litigators

April 11, 2018

2017 Best Franchise Litigators -- USA By Jeffrey M. Goldstein  Over my 30 years of practice I’ve from time to time been asked by clients “if we hadn’t chosen you as our litigator, which lawyers would you have recommended that we had chosen to litigate our case?” Just again two...


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Franchise Lawyer, Jeff Goldstein, of Goldstein Law Firm

Choosing a Franchise Law Firm to Represent You

My Franchise Agreement is Expiring, Now What? (Part I of II)

Contact Us

Goldstein Law Firm, PLLC

1629 K St. NW, Suite 300,
Washington, DC 20006

Phone: 202-293-3947
Fax: 202-315-2514

Free Consultation

Free Consultation

Esteemed Lawyers of America Logo

Esteemed Law Firm Complex Litigation

Global Law Experts Logo

Recommended Firm in Franchise Litigation

Who's Who Attorney Logo

Top Attorney USA – Litigation

Avvo Franchise Lawyer Symbol

Superior Attorney in Franchising

Avvo Franchise Lawyer Symbol

Superior Attorney in Antitrust

Finance Monthly Global Award Winner Logo

Franchise Law Firm of the Year

Lead Counsel logo

Chosen Law Firm for Commercial Litigation

BBB of Washington DC

A+ Rated

Washington DC Chamber of Commerce

Verified Member

Lawyers of Distinction logo

Franchise Law Firm of the Year

ISSUU

Best Law Firm for Franchise Disputes in 2017

Law Awards Finanace Monthly

Franchise Law Firm of the Year

Top Franchise Litigator for Franchisees and Dealers

Top Franchise Litigator for Franchisees and Dealers

2017 Finance Monthly Award

2017 Finance Monthly Award