Not only does buying a franchise involve a making sizable financial investment, but it also involves entering into a long-term legal relationship that provides very limited opportunities to protect your investment if something goes wrong. As a result, in addition to working with your financial advisor, it is also important to work with an attorney who can help you assess the legal risks involved and, potentially, negotiate more-favorable terms into your franchise agreement. These legal services are commonly referred to as a franchise business review.
As with all aspects of buying a franchise, when choosing a lawyer to perform your franchise business review, you need to make an informed decision. A lawyer who doesn’t focus his or her practice on franchise law won’t be able to provide you with the insights you need, although he or she may be able to provide general legal advice about the risks entailed by your franchise agreement. Likewise, a lawyer who primarily represents franchisors will lack the perspective needed to view the issues from your point of view and might even have interests that are in conflict with yours.
So, what is the best option? When you need a franchise business review, you need a franchise lawyer who focuses exclusively on representing prospective and current franchisees.
What Factors Should You Consider When Choosing a Lawyer for Your Franchise Business Review?
While there aren’t many franchise lawyers in this category, there are more than one. So, what factors should you consider when choosing a lawyer for your franchise business review?
Factor #1: Specific Experience Representing Franchisees
We mentioned it already, but this is easily the most important factor so it bears repeating. When choosing a lawyer to perform your franchise business review, you need to choose a lawyer who has specific and extensive experience representing franchisees. Just as you shouldn’t choose an orthopedist when you have a heart condition, you shouldn’t choose a choose a non-franchise-lawyer when you need legal advice on buying a franchise.
Factor #2: Up-to-Date Knowledge of Franchise Law Trends
You also need to choose a lawyer who stays up-to-date on franchise law trends. Franchise law is one area that develops relatively rapidly, and new court decisions are constantly shaping and reshaping various aspects of the franchise relationship. If your lawyer isn’t familiar with the latest developments, then he or she won’t be able to provide the advice you need.
What terms are currently considered “industry standard”? What terms are you most likely to be able to negotiate successfully? What are major red flags in the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) and franchise agreement? These are all questions that your franchise lawyer should be able to easily answer.
How can you figure out if a lawyer is up-to-date on the latest developments? Checking the lawyer’s blog for recent posts is a good place to start. You can also look at franchise industry publications such as Blue MauMau to see if the lawyer is publishing articles there as well.
Factor #3: Experience in Franchise Litigation
While litigation experience may not seem relevant when you are choosing a lawyer for your franchise business review, it is actually a highly-relevant factor. After all, when evaluating a franchise opportunity, some of the most-important questions include:
- What are the greatest litigation risks associated with the franchise opportunity?
- If you end up in litigation, what are your (and the franchisor’s) contractual remedies?
- If your franchise agreement includes a mandatory arbitration provision, what does this mean for your ability to protect your franchise?
Factor #4: Awards and Recognition
Has the franchisor been recognized for his or her experience representing franchisees? Since franchise attorneys have the ability to maintain a national practice, there are plenty of awards available for the taking. For example, at the Goldstein Law Firm, some of our recent awards and recognitions include:
- Franchise Law Firm of the Year – ACQ5 Law Awards
- Franchise Law Firm of the Year – Finance Monthly
- Franchise Law Firm of the Year – Global Awards
- Franchise Law Firm of the Year – Lawyers of Distinction
- Top Franchise Litigator for Franchisees and Dealers – Litigators in Law
- Superior Attorney in Franchising and Antitrust – Avvo
Factor #5: Client Testimonials
Just as important, if not more important, are client testimonials. When choosing a franchise lawyer, the lawyer’s past clients can be valuable sources of information. If past clients are willing to publicly discuss their experience, this will usually be a good sign. Examples of our testimonials include:
- “Excellent work, Jeff!” – Multi-unit service sector franchisee (value over $2 million)
- “Jeff, very good job.” – Franchisee owner of three multi-state franchises (value over $3 million)
- “Without your knowledge of impact and encroachment policies and how to attack them, our business would have been lost . . . . Great job.” – Multi-unit fast food franchisee owner (value over $2 million)
Factor #6: Packages and Pricing
As a prospective franchisee, cost is a relevant factor when choosing a franchise lawyer as well. Lawyers have a reputation for being extraordinarily expensive; and, to be sure, some are. However, there are reasonably-priced options out there, and you should not have to sacrifice quality in order to obtain a franchise business review that you can afford.
Our firm offers four fixed-fee franchise business review programs. While each program is at a different pricing tier, all four tiers are designed to be affordable for prospective franchisees. When you contact us about your franchise opportunity, we can discuss your options and help you choose the program that makes the most sense for you.
Factor #7: Personal Connection
Finally, even though you are hiring a lawyer for a business purpose, establishing a personal connection is still important. You will be discussing confidential information, so you will need to feel comfortable talking openly with your attorney about your franchise opportunity. The need for this personal connection is one of the main reasons why we offer free initial consultations to prospective clients—we want to make sure you feel comfortable with us before you pay anything for our services.
Interested in a Franchise Business Review? Get Started with a Free Initial Consultation
Are you preparing to buy a franchise? To discuss our fixed-fee franchise business review programs in confidence, call 202-293-3947 or request a free initial consultation online today.