National Distribution Lawyer with Over 30 Years of Experience Representing Distributors
While operating as a distributor can afford substantial revenue potential, it also carries significant legal and financial risks. Manufacturers typically reserve broad (and often vague) contractual rights to impose restrictions on their distributors, and distributors will often find themselves facing sudden and unexpected termination. Various other issues can arise as well, and distributors must rely on an experienced distribution lawyer to help them make informed decisions and protect their investments before and after signing their agreements.
Jeffrey M. Goldstein is a distribution lawyer who has been representing distributors for more than 30 years. He is intimately familiar with the contract terms manufacturers use to maintain control over their distributors, and he is equally familiar with the issues that can (and often do) lead to litigation. Mr. Goldstein exclusively represents distributors – never manufacturers – and this dedicated approach has allowed him to become one of the country’s most successful and well-respected distributor-only lawyers.
Representing Distributors in Contract Negotiations
When preparing to enter into a distribution relationship, it is imperative to thoroughly review the agreement and negotiate any unreasonable terms. Manufacturers use their leverage to impose severely one-sided terms on their distributors. While many will claim to offer their agreements on a “take-it-or-leave-it” basis, Mr. Goldstein has successfully secured concessions on behalf of many distributors of well-known brands.
All of the terms of a distribution agreement require careful review and consideration. When reviewing distribution agreements, Mr. Goldstein works closely with his clients to help them understand the risks associated with provisions, including:
- Distribution and Territory Rights – What products or services do you have the right to distribute? What is your territory, and is it truly “exclusive”? What rights have the manufacturer reserved to modify your distribution rights?
- Minimum Standards and Obligations – What “minimum standards” do you need to meet to maintain your distribution agreement? What are your marketing obligations? What other obligations do you need to meet consistently throughout the terms of your contractual relationship, and what happens if you fail to meet them?
- Manufacturer Obligations – What obligations does the agreement impose on the manufacturer? What remedies are available to you if the manufacturer fails to uphold these obligations?
- Renewal and Transfer Rights – What are the conditions on the renewal of your distribution agreement? What about your right to transfer? Are these conditions so strict or vague that they essentially leave renewal and transfer up to the manufacturer’s discretion?
- Breach and Default Terms – What constitutes a breach of your distribution agreement, and when can the manufacturer declare you in default? If you commit a breach, how long do you have to effect a cure before you risk losing your distribution rights?
- Dispute Resolution and Other Issues – Is your distribution agreement subject to mandatory arbitration? Are you consenting to jurisdiction in the manufacturer’s home state? Will you have to pay the manufacturer’s legal fees if you lose in arbitration or litigation?
This list is by no means exclusive. In many cases, even seemingly insignificant “boilerplate” provisions can have significant implications in the event of a dispute down the line. As a highly experienced distribution lawyer, Mr. Goldstein will thoroughly review all terms of your agreement and give you the insights you need to make informed decisions moving forward.
Representing Distributors in Disputes and Litigation
Issues arising under the contract terms listed above (among others) will often lead to disputes between distributors and manufacturers. In many cases, distributors will have claims against their manufacturers based on state and federal laws as well. Distribution lawyer Jeffrey M. Goldstein has experience representing distributors in disputes involving an extremely broad range of contractual and statutory issues—and he has a documented track record of achieving favorable results for his clients.
Mr. Goldstein’s experience includes representing distributors in mediation, arbitration, and litigation in state and federal court:
- Mediation – Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in which the parties work toward a negotiated resolution. The mediator does not render a final decision but instead uses his or her experience in distributor-manufacturer disputes to help the parties work toward common ground. Distribution agreements will often require mediation as a precursor to arbitration or litigation.
- Arbitration – Arbitration is also a form of ADR, but, unlike mediation, it results in a binding decision. The arbitrator (or arbitration panel) hears evidence and arguments from both parties before applying the law to the facts at hand. As noted above, distribution agreements will often include provisions for mandatory arbitration.
- State Court Litigation – Disputes between distributors and manufacturers will occasionally be litigated in state court. When litigating a dispute, it is essential to have a distribution lawyer who is familiar with the relevant law and the relevant court rules and procedures.
- Federal Court Litigation – Many disputes between distributors and manufacturers will need to be resolved in federal court. Mr. Goldstein has litigated cases in federal district courts across the country and can provide representation for federal distributorship litigation in all 50 states.
Are You a Distributor or a Franchisee?
The worlds of distribution and franchising are closely related—and in many cases, they overlap. Many franchises include distribution elements, and in some cases, franchisors will misclassify their franchisees as distributors to avoid the implications of federal and state franchise laws.
In addition to his experience representing distributors, Mr. Goldstein also has substantial experience representing franchisees. If you own (or are seeking to acquire) a distribution franchise, or if you believe that you may be entitled to the protections afforded to franchisees, Mr. Goldstein can assess your legal rights and provide tailored advice based on the nature of the relationship at hand.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Distribution Lawyer Jeffrey M. Goldstein
If you have questions and would like to speak with a distribution lawyer, we encourage you to schedule a free consultation at the Goldstein Law Firm. To talk to Mr. Goldstein in confidence as soon as possible, call 202-293-3947 or request a consultation online today.