How to Pick a Franchise Lawyer for Your Franchise Business Review
Investors should look online for the experience, expertise and stature of the proposed attorney when choosing a firm to assist with their franchise business review. A quick and easy google search, for instance, in the leading franchise online periodical Bluemaumau as follows is one way to easily detect any obvious defects in law firms.
You can also look up your potential attorney on AVVO (avvo.com) as attorneys listed have rankings. You can also look up the potential attorney on linkedin (www.linkedin.com) and examine the number of recommendations for that attorney.
Questions to Ask When Selecting a Franchise Lawyer
As you browse the reviews and websites of your potential franchise lawyer, ask yourself the following questions in order to make the right selection.
- Are the articles on the lawyer’s website of recent vintage? If not, this is a negative.
- Does the lawyer himself or herself directly author regularly published articles in the field? If not, this is a negative.
- Are the articles on the lawyer’s website actually written by the attorney or are they ‘cut and paste’ or ‘business feed’ articles from other business or franchise publications written by other lawyers or experts and simply ‘placed’ on the attorney’s website? If the articles are not written himself or herself personally, this is a negative.
- Did you get the attorney’s name as a reference or referral from a Franchise Dealer Association whose operating revenues in part come from funds paid by the lawyer’s law firm to the Franchise Dealer Association? If so, this is a negative.
- Is the attorney who will do the review the owner, president, manager, or operator of a Franchise Dealer Association that has used the dues of its franchisee members to promote his own individual concealed personal legal practice? If so, this is a negative.
- Is the attorney a former businessperson who worked in the past as a franchise broker or franchisor representative in the franchise industry? If so, this is a negative.
- Does the franchise lawyer represent only franchisees and dealers, or does he or she also represent franchisors? If he or she also represents franchisors or employees of franchisors, this is a negative.
- Does the franchise attorney do both litigation and counseling in the franchise and distribution field? If the attorney does not do litigation as well as counseling, this is a negative.
- Has the franchise lawyer practiced in the franchise field for more than 20 years? If not, this is a negative.
- Will the lawyer who will be working directly with you on the franchise review be the lawyer with 20+ years of experience, or will your reviewer by a lawyer with less than 7 years of experience? If an attorney with fewer years will be doing the review, this is a negative.
- Has the franchise lawyer practiced at some point in his or her career in a top 50 international corporate law firm? If not, this is a negative.
- Does the franchise lawyer have an international or national practice or does he or she focus solely on a local city or state clientele? If the practice is limited primarily to a city, state or region, this is a negative.
- Does the franchise attorney also do unrelated ‘trusts and estates’ or ‘custody and divorce’ work as part of his or her practice? If so, this is a strong negative.
- Is the attorney an ‘approved or recommended vendor’ for many national franchisors? If so, this is a negative.
- Does the franchise lawyer advertise that he or she helps small businesses become franchises, ‘starts franchises’ or prepares FDDs? If so, this is a negative.
- Does the attorney represent himself or herself as a ‘deal maker, not a deal breaker’? If so, this is strong negative.
Additional Criteria to Consider When Hiring a Franchise Lawyer for Your Franchise Business Review
Answering the above questions will allow you to begin to narrow the field of potential franchise attorneys. An attorney with 30 years of experience in complex litigation with a focus on franchising and distribution should normally be chosen over one with eight years of experience in general business contracts, for instance. Similarly, an experienced franchise litigator who represents only franchisees should almost always be chosen over a franchise lawyer who represents both franchisees and franchisors. All else being equal, the franchisee should give greater credit to the attorney who:
- focuses exclusively in the franchise and distribution area;
- represents franchisees and dealers and does not represent franchisors and manufacturers;
- has a healthy litigation practice in addition to his or her counseling practice (such that he or she does not merely provide counseling services);
- has an international or national practice;
- does not obtain individual clients for his own personal practice in the guise of a group national Franchise Dealer Association;
- does not simultaneously practice in unrelated, undemanding and uncomplicated legal practice areas, such as trusts and estates or divorce and custody; and
- is not an ‘approved legal vendor’ of a franchisor.
Even when you look at all the above criteria, however, the most important important factors for choosing a franchise lawyer depend on you. Pick the lawyer that makes you feel comfortable and best answers all the questions you may have. The right lawyer will have your interests at heart and will handle your franchise business review with individualized attention.