From legally binding agreements to various state and federal regulations, buying a franchise has complex legal aspects that require specialized knowledge. While a general practice lawyer can assist their clients in a broad range of areas, it’s helpful to find an attorney that specializes in franchising. A franchise lawyer has expertise in state and federal franchise laws and can walk you through all the legal issues that come with buying a franchise.
At a federal level, franchisors are required to disclose the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) so that the potential franchisee can be well-informed when deciding to buy the franchise. At a state level, there are various other franchise regulations in addition to the required FDD. These might include additional disclosure obligations from the franchisor, as well as laws that regulate the franchisor-franchisee relationship.
Whether it’s giving advice regarding the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) or reviewing and negotiating the franchise agreement, a franchise attorney can make sure your rights are protected throughout the process.
7 Things to Consider When Choosing a Franchise Lawyer
#1 – Experience
In the legal industry, there isn’t a specific certification or license that makes an individual a “franchise” lawyer. Because of this, you should make sure you hire a lawyer that not only specializes in franchise law but is also involved in the franchise community.
It’s a good sign if a franchise lawyer has a membership with the American Bar Association Forum on Franchising and the International Franchise Association (IFA). The American Bar Association Forum on Franchising is an influential forum that offers conferences and continuing education events specializing in franchise law. The IFA is the world’s largest membership organization for franchisors, franchisees, and franchise suppliers. Being a part of these organizations indicates a franchise attorney’s commitment to being an expert in the industry.
#2 – Reputation
In addition to relevant legal association memberships, you should review the franchise lawyer’s reputation in handling franchise cases. A few questions to ask when evaluating franchise attorneys include:
- Do they have a notable amount of experience?
- Have they received positive reviews from past clients?
- Do they come recommended by existing franchisees?
- Does the local bar association have anything to say about them?
Having answers to these questions will help you know if the franchise attorney has a client-centric approach along with the necessary expertise.
#3 – Knowledge of Regulations
People hire lawyers because of their knowledge and ability to navigate the legal system. When looking for a franchise attorney, you want to find one that has a strong grasp on the franchise regulations and laws in your jurisdiction. You should be able to confidently rely on their legal advice. Keep in mind that the lawyer’s location matters since franchise laws can vary by region.
#4 – Industry Experience
Franchise regulations can also vary by industry. While it’s not always necessary, it can be helpful to find a franchise attorney that is familiar with the specific industry where you’re seeking to buy a franchise. Industry experienced lawyers are often familiar with current market trends, challenges, and opportunities – knowledge that is valuable when structuring your franchise agreement and business strategies. Overall, having a lawyer with this type of experience can be extremely useful for addressing unique challenges that may come up.
#5 – Communication Skills
Any time you hire a lawyer, whether it be for buying a franchise or something else, you want to find someone that communicates clearly and is accessible. It’s important to find someone who will respond promptly and can handle urgent matters when they come up. An attorney that falls short of these skills will likely be a waste of money.
#6 – Fee Structure
It almost goes without saying, but you should consider the financial costs of hiring a franchise attorney. Make sure you understand the fee structure and that it aligns with your budget. Some franchise lawyers provide hourly billing while others might offer fixed fee project based billing. If possible, you should seek out a fixed fee option. Typically, a fixed fee will result in more efficient work, and you won’t be left guessing how many hours an attorney will bill you for.
#7 – Compatibility
While this one is more subjective, you want to ensure that you will have a good relationship with your legal team. Being able to develop rapport with them is essential as you will be working closely together. You could have the smartest lawyer in the world, but it wouldn’t do you much good if you can’t effectively work together.
Interested in Buying a Franchise?
Building your franchise support teams starts with FranNet. Our franchise consultants will help guide you through the process of buying a franchise and point you in the right direction when you need to seek legal advice. We can evaluate your skills and abilities in order to match you with the right franchise. We have hundreds of verified brands to choose from. Our services are free to you so there’s no better time to get started. Schedule your free consultation today!