Hiring a Franchise Lawyer
Many assume that, because a franchise agreement is by nature a contract, any attorney is competent to review it. However, this is not necessarily the case. Franchise agreements are unique contracts, and only franchise lawyers are qualified to handle them.
Franchising is all about the ability to replicate a business concept and provide a consistent product or service. Thanks to this consistency, franchisors can build a brand and a network of franchised locations that reinforce their brand image. Many of the issues covered in the franchise agreement are dictated by this consistency and the franchisor’s responsibility to protect its brand. These stipulations are often misinterpreted by attorneys who are inexperienced in franchise matters as biased in favor of the franchisor.
With all this in mind, you should definitely retain a franchise lawyer to review your franchise agreement – a qualified franchise attorney can determine whether or not contract terms and obligations are acceptable/common practice or excessive/unusual in a franchise relationship.
Additionally, they can help you negotiate with a franchisor by laying out which changes the franchisor could be willing to make and, conversely, which changes are likely to be rejected. Assistance in evaluating the franchise opportunity and help with writing and detailing a business plan are also benefits that the franchise lawyer is likely to provide.
It isn’t difficult to find a qualified franchise attorney. Do you know someone who has invested in a franchise? Ask them for a referral. Your personal /business attorney or your accountant can also give you a reference. If you are unable to uncover a franchising attorney despite your networking efforts, you can turn to your state bar association for the information.
As always, do your due diligence: take the time to talk with more than one attorney to make sure you find one you feel comfortable working with. It would be in your best interest to get assistance from an attorney and other professional advisors before you invest in a franchise – with the help of an experienced franchise attorney, you’re simply likely to get better results.