While franchises are usually a win-win for everyone involved, problems can arise. A lawyer can help a franchisee understand their legal rights and obligations.
Many franchise agreements include arbitration clauses and one-sided terms that may not be enforceable in court. An experienced franchise attorney can help a franchisee understand these provisions.
If you’re thinking about buying a franchise, an experienced lawyer will review your prospective franchisor’s disclosure documents. This legal document is a must-read for any potential franchisee, as it contains important information about the financial and operational aspects of the franchisor’s business.
In addition, a franchise attorney can help you compare the franchisor’s terms to those of other franchise agreements they have reviewed. The more familiar they are with the terms used in different brands, the better able they will be to spot key differences that could impact your ability to successfully run and profit from the franchise.
Choosing the right franchise attorney can save you both time and money in the long run. A good one can quickly identify issues that you should address in your contract, helping to protect you from expensive disputes later on. For example, a good franchise attorney will know whether a clause requiring that any dispute be filed in the franchisor’s home state is enforceable. They will also be able to determine the likelihood of success of your lawsuit, based on their experience with other franchisees and other legal precedent in this area of law.
A skilled franchise lawyer can review the FDD and help you prepare a list of terms to negotiate with the franchisor. They can also advise you on other legal documentation needed for the franchise, such as trademark and licensing agreements. They can even assist you with the preparation of a business entity and structure to meet your legal and financial goals and maximize asset and liability protection.
When it comes to disputes, a knowledgeable franchise attorney can defend you against claims made by your franchisor or suppliers. They can also assist with litigation and arbitration if necessary. They will fight for your rights, whether they’re related to allegations of fraud or breach of the franchise agreement.
Zarco Einhorn Salkowski, P.A., is a full-service commercial litigation firm that is nationally recognized for its work on behalf of franchisees, dealers, and licensees. The firm is renowned for its creative strategies, impressive successes, and years of experience in litigating high-stakes cases that set legal precedent in franchise law. The firm’s founder, Robert Zarco, is a recognized leader in franchising litigation and is frequently invited to speak at conferences on the topic of franchise law.
Ashley Nielsen has years of experience representing both franchisors and franchisees in reviewing and negotiating their franchise agreements. She understands the significant commitment of financial resources, time and energy that new franchisees make to their businesses. She finds it gratifying to serve as their trusted advisor and help them achieve success. Ashley focuses on franchise agreements, particularly the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) and the Franchise Agreement itself. She conducts a thorough review of each item and meets with the client for an in-depth discussion of specific provisions that could impact their business.
She also works closely with clients to develop a strategic plan to address any potential issues or challenges, so they can avoid or minimize costly litigation. This includes providing clients with the information they need to evaluate a franchise opportunity, including researching the franchisor’s history and litigation, financial stability, and other important matters. This helps to ensure a safer investment and stronger partnership for the franchisee.
In addition, franchise lawyers are familiar with the state and federal laws that apply to the purchase of a franchised business. They have the experience to help franchise parties navigate the process, including negotiating the FDD and individual franchise agreement, lease negotiations, hiring employees and addressing minimum wage laws, establishing exclusive territories, and other contractual situations.
Franchise law is different than general business law, and you want your lawyer to have a deep understanding of the nuances involved in this type of law. For example, in most cases, a franchisee may only be permitted to terminate an agreement if the franchisor has materially defaulted on certain terms and conditions. However, many crafty franchisor-lawyers have been putting in termination provisions with very squirrelly standards that give the franchisor broad discretion about what constitutes a default.
A trustworthy franchise attorney will know the good and bad aspects of these types of provisions, and they will be able to advise their clients about what is realistically possible within the bounds of the law. They should also be aware of the ways in which a particular franchise law issue can have far-reaching implications for the entire industry.
When evaluating franchise attorneys, ask for references from current and former clients. You should also be able to learn more about their personality and communication style by speaking with them. You can also find out more about the attorney’s efficiency by asking them how quickly they returned phone calls or e-mails and how long it took for them to complete a particular document.
The first step in assessing the effectiveness of a franchise lawyer is to understand his or her fees. Some lawyers offer a flat fee, while others work on an hourly basis. The latter is a more flexible option, since the lawyer can estimate how much time it will take to review your FDD and franchise agreement.
An experienced franchise lawyer will be able to spot any issues with your agreement before they become problems. For example, if you don’t understand the terms of an arbitration clause or other onerous provisions in your agreement, the attorney can help you negotiate more favorable terms.
Additionally, a knowledgeable franchise attorney can be your sounding board when it comes to discussing the benefits and risks of becoming a franchisee. This is especially important if the franchisor’s salespeople are trying to pressure you into signing an agreement. Your attorney doesn’t have any skin* in the game, and thus can offer you impartial advice.
Having a good relationship with your lawyer can also be helpful if you need to file a lawsuit against the franchisor. A good attorney will be able to determine whether a breach is significant or insignificant, which is important because many franchise agreements contain shortened statutes of limitations.
A good franchise attorney will also be able to help you develop an exit strategy that considers your long-term goals and objectives. They can also help you determine whether the business model is right for you and help you decide if you’re ready to take on this new challenge. This is important because many franchisees end up closing their businesses due to financial difficulties, which can be stressful and expensive. Having a good relationship with your attorney can help you avoid this situation.