by iFranchise Group
CEO, Mark Siebert
The Ultimate How-To Guide on Franchising Your Business
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Choosing the right franchise attorney is one of the most critical decisions you will make as a franchisor. The documents that your attorney crafts and the advice provided can make or break your franchise program. But how does one go about finding the right attorney?
Unfortunately, the legal profession is highly competitive. And with hundreds of thousands of franchises that have been sold in the United States in the last decade, many attorneys who are not franchise specialists can claim to have franchise experience. But often, that experience may be limited to a review of a franchise disclosure document on behalf of a franchisee or working with a franchisee on a non-franchise related issue. So while an attorney may be representing themselves as someone with franchise expertise, in fact, their experience may be far short of what you really need.
The fact is that there are over 1 million attorneys in the United States, but there are probably fewer than 2,000 attorneys with any real franchise experience. And of these 2,000 franchise attorneys, there are perhaps 200 franchise lawyers who are a good fit, for example, for a new franchisor looking to franchise their business.
So how does one make the choice?
The best way, of course, is to receive one or more referrals from franchise professionals. If you would like a referral to a qualified franchise attorney, the iFranchise Group is happy to make these referrals regardless of whether you choose to work with us or not. And since we never take referral fees from these attorneys, you can have some confidence that these referrals will be objective. To speak to one of our franchise consultants about franchise attorneys that can help you franchise your business, click here.
Should you choose to do the search yourself, the first and most important piece is the experience of the attorney. Check their website to see if “Franchise Law” is listed as a separate practice area. Then look at the lawyers in their Franchise Practice Group. Do their bios talk only about franchising, or do they list other areas of expertise such as general contract law, real estate, estate planning, etc., as a part of their practice? Do they list franchise publications? Do they list franchise specific honors (being named to the Franchise Times list of Legal Eagles, for example)? How long have they been practicing franchise law?
Once you have identified the attorneys you would like to consider, you should ask them probing questions based on what is important to you as someone who is going to franchise their business:
In our experience, it is generally best to wait on the decision to hire a franchise attorney until after you have worked with a franchise consultant to determine the feasibility of a particular franchise. In that way, you can be sure that you are not paying for franchise legal advice for a franchise program that ultimately will not work. And since the best franchise consultants will provide you with an initial understanding of the “franchisability” of a concept at no charge, this is often the most economical alternative.
Either way, the iFranchise Group is happy to help. Speak to one of our franchise consultants about the feasibility of your franchise program or for a no obligation referral to a qualified franchise attorney who can help you franchise your business.