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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

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

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

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 weeks ago, during some dead-time during one of the prolific break-out sessions during Mediation for one of my clients, the issue was broached yet again. Interestingly, I had never provided a full and thoughtful answer to the question in the past. In addition, these clients wanted to know the best ‘on both sides.’ For whatever reasons, prompted by that last Mediation discussion, I finally set about to list those litigators whose names I’d put on my personal informal list of ‘go to litigators’ for franchise and distribution. In preparing my information and non-scientific list I’ve used roughly the following criteria: (1) he or she has a minimum of 10-12 years in the franchise or distribution litigation ‘industry’; (2) franchise or distribution litigation (not franchise or distribution counseling or transactions) must predominate in his or her practice; (3) his or her ability and willingness to do battle in court are commensurate with their reputations; and (4) he or she participates in a full-time private practice. In essence, I have tried to informally distinguish between those who merely have prolific helpful professional ‘connections’ or ‘contacts’ in the franchise world (either within their law firms or in franchise corporations) and those who […]


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Reasonable Franchise Growth or Unreasonable Encroachment?

April 8, 2018

Reasonable Franchise Growth or Unreasonable Encroachment? By: Jeffrey M. Goldstein New franchise openings are a lightning rod in the franchise world; while franchisor advocates see new location openings as a legitimate mode of franchise growth, franchisee advocates view such openings as unreasonable franchise encroachment. On a semantic level, one of the most exasperating problems hindering meaningful discussion of the franchise growth issue is the unsystematic and undisciplined use of the term encroachment. Very simply, encroachment is an outcome-determinative term; as used in the franchise context it includes both reasonable and unreasonable growth. Accordingly, because it includes any growth that could or does cause any negative impact on an existing franchisee, the term is descriptively, conceptually and analytically useless at best, and destructive at worst. Further, the term encroachment similarly fails to account for the crucial distinction between non-opportunistic and opportunistic growth. In this regard, opportunistic behavior may be found in both the reasonable and unreasonable growth scenarios. Making matters worse from a semantic perspective is that the term opportunism itself is uncertain, ambiguous and anecdotal. Although opportunism in the relevant law and economics literature possesses elements of selfishness and self-interest, there is no consensus on whether all forms of opportunism harm efficiency. Again, the literature has failed to provide a uniformly-accepted definition of opportunism in the world of contracts, economics and franchising. Whereas many types of conduct have been identified as opportunistic (e.g., shirking, free-riding, stealing), no uniform theoretical definition has been formulated or accepted. One common element of many […]


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Franchisee Rights FAQs

March 23, 2018

What are your rights as a franchisee? Whether you are looking for more ways to grow your business or facing a potential dispute with a franchisor, this is a very important question. While you own your own business, you and your franchisor are inseparably intertwined, and your rights are largely dictated by the terms of your franchise agreement. However, there are various laws that apply to the franchise relationship; and, depending on where you operate your franchise, you may have additional protections under your state’s franchise law as well. Then, there are the general rights that exist by virtue of the fact that your franchise agreement is silent on certain subjects. Q&A with Franchise Attorney Jeffrey M. Goldstein Q: Are franchisors required to impose uniform standards on all franchisees? As a general rule, franchisors can impose different standards on different franchisees. While uniformity is one of the hallmarks of the franchise model, there are a variety of reasons why some franchisees may be subject to different standards than others. For example, franchisees in urban areas may need to do more to stand out from their competition than those in rural towns. Or, some franchisees may have negotiated additional protections into their franchise agreements. However, there are limits on franchisors’ ability to treat franchisees differently. Providing disparate treatment without a justifiable basis may constitute franchise discrimination. Franchise discrimination is a violation of franchisees’ rights, and legal remedies are available. Q: Do I have the right to negotiate my franchise agreement? Yes, […]


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Building Wealth: Can You Get Wealthy By Owning Franchises?

March 16, 2018

Can you get wealthy by owning franchises? Undoubtedly, the answer is yes. Some franchisees are able to make significant sums of money, and they build careers as serial franchise owners. According to an article on Forbes.com, the largest restaurant franchisee in the world, Greg Flynn, has nearly $2 billion in annual revenues. The article goes on to list nine other franchisees that bring in over $500 million per year. However, for every Greg Flynn, there are countless franchisees who is struggling to make payroll or pay rent. For each of these struggling franchisees, there is another franchisee who has already failed. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), franchisees fail at approximately the same rate as independent business owners, which means that roughly half of all franchises go out of business within the first five years. Also, keep in mind that Flynn owns 800 restaurants, has relied heavily on institutional capital, and has a team of professionals working for him behind the scenes. But, let’s assume that you are planning to start small, and that you don’t need to make hundreds of millions in order to consider yourself wealthy. What do you need to do in order to make your first franchise a success? Aside from having a sound financial plan, you also need to address the legal issues involved. For example: 1. Protect what you own currently. When you own a business that is open to the public, there is a chance that you will get sued. If you […]


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Buying a Franchise or Starting an Independent Business: Which is Better?

March 9, 2018

Deciding whether to buy a franchise or start an independent business requires consideration of a variety of legal, financial and practical considerations. While many people find success as franchisees, a significant percentage of franchisees fail. Of course, many independent businesses fail as well. In fact, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA), failure rates of franchised outlets and independent businesses are roughly equal. When trying to decide between buying a franchise and starting an independent business, here are some important considerations to keep in mind: 1. What is your business background? If you start an independent business you will, by definition, be on your own. Unless you have a natural business acumen, without a significant business background, you may struggle to find success independently. This is especially true with a brick-and-mortar business such as a convenience store, which requires you to lease retail space, hire employees, and maintain a sizeable inventory. However, you need business savvy to operate a successful franchise as well. Even when you are propped up by an established business model and have a real-world-tested system for running your business (all franchises should offer this, but not all of them actually do), you still need to make the day-to-day decisions. If you don’t know how to run a business, you are likely to struggle regardless of whether you choose to operate independently or as a franchisee. 2. What does the market demand? For certain types of businesses, operating under a franchised brand can offer a significant advantage. […]


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Recent Blogs on Franchise, Dealership and Antitrust Law

Franchisee Rights FAQs

Mar 23, 2018

What are your rights as a franchisee? Whether you are looking for more ways...


Read More

Building Wealth: Can You Get Wealthy By Owning Franchises?

Mar 16, 2018

Can you get wealthy by owning franchises? Undoubtedly, the answer is yes....


Read More

Buying a Franchise or Starting an Independent Business: Which is Better?

Mar 9, 2018

Deciding whether to buy a franchise or start an independent business...


Read More

What is the Universal Franchisee Bill of Rights?

Feb 28, 2018

If you have been looking for information about your rights as a franchisee...


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