Message from the Chair

Vol. 15 No. 4

By

Forum Chair

Recently passing the half-way point of my tenure as the Chair of the Forum, I thought the timing of this “Message from the Chair” was a good opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments of the Forum since last August. I can thankfully report that even in the face of some unique challenges over that time period, Forum leadership, comprised of the Governing Committee and Senior Appointed Leadership, has continued to deliver upon my promise in the Message from the Chair of a year ago, “to find ways to provide value to our members.”

This value can be seen in ways big and small. For example, in the last year, The Franchise Lawyer has added a section entitled “Pointers & Pitfalls,” which allows authors to provide other members with helpful tips on the practice of franchise law. In an effort to incentivize its newer members to write for its publications, the Forum also created a writing competition called the “Rising Scholar Award.” The winner of this competition will have his or her article published in the Franchise Law Journal and will receive monetary assistance to attend the Forum.

At last year’s Annual Meeting in Baltimore, the Forum received rave reviews from attendees on the electronic application (the “App”) it introduced to enhance attendees’ experience at the event. At approximately the same time as the Annual Meeting, the Forum created a Face Book page and LinkedIn group to provide information to its membership. Realizing that these tools are of limited value unless people know how to use them, the Forum created and delivered to its membership an electronic communications “cheat-sheet” that covered use of the Forum’s website, Listserv and other social media venues.

This summer the Forum, in partnership with the Chicago Bar Association, held a well-received brown bag lunch CLE on mediation and effective dispute resolution in the franchise context. Another jointly-hosted brown bag series that will focus on arbitration in the franchise context is scheduled for this fall. The Forum also published five books, including supplements, in the last year, giving our members even more resources to use in their practices.

In addition, we established an outreach program where Governing Committee Members and Senior Appointed Leadership, on a quarterly basis, contact those individuals who took advantage of the first/second time attendee discount at the Baltimore Annual Meeting in an attempt to bind those individuals to the organization. The Forum also sponsored a networking event in Chicago for its younger lawyers and law students interested in franchising. Similarly, in an effort to continue to attract law students interested in the practice of franchise law, the Forum has invited students attending law schools in the Los Angeles area to participate in a portion of this year’s Annual Meeting.

Internally, the Forum formed a Projects and Initiatives Committee for the purpose of developing a multi-year plan to address how and on what items Forum funds should be invested in an effort to maximize the return our members receive on their membership. We also institutionalized a process to review each of our Divisions and Caucuses once every five years to ensure that the Division or Caucus under consideration continues to provide value to its constituents and is meeting its related mission statement. Last, one of the biggest complaints we have received over the past few years is that we no longer providing this publication in hard copy. If you are holding this in your hands while reading it, you know that we have returned to the past and are once again delivering this publication in hard copy. If you have not yet received your copy in the mail, it is on its way. For those of you who are more “electronically inclined,” no need to worry. You will still continue to receive an electronic version of this publication.

These accomplishments do not happen without the dedication, commitment and hard work of the Forum’s Governing Committee members and Senior Appointed Leadership, made up of the following people over the last year: Kerry Bundy, Harris Chernow, Deb Coldwell, Leslie Curran, Diane Green-Kelly, Mike Joblove, Eric Karp, Mike Lindsey, Kathy Kotel, Jim Goniea, Karen Satterlee, Will Woods, Tami McKnew, Allen Greenfield, Brian Balconi, Peter Silverman, John Pratt, Max Schott, II, Chris Bussert and Ron Gardner in his capacity as the immediate Past Chair. These people have gone above and beyond the call and have selflessly given of their time and talent for the betterment of this organization. If you see them at the Annual Meeting, please be sure to thank them for their efforts.

Staying on the topic of delivering value and herculean efforts, I am hoping you are reading this on your way to, or at, the Annual Meeting. If you will not be attending, you will truly be missing out. Mike Joblove and Leslie Curran, the Program Co-Chairs for the Annual Meeting, have overcome some very unique obstacles this year to bring our membership what I think will be one of the most memorable annual meetings we have had in quite some time. The programming is once again top notch, and the networking events at the historic Belasco Theater and The Grammy Museum promise to be remarkable.

Finally, I want to publicly thank Kelly Rodenberg for all of her work on behalf of the Forum over the years. For those of you who do not know Kelly, she was the Forum’s Director at the ABA for years. For those of you who know Kelly, you can attest as to how integral she was to the success of this organization. Kelly made the decision this summer to leave the ABA for new challenges, and her new employer’s gain is truly our loss. Kelly, you will be missed.

I hope to see many of you in L.A. at the Annual Meeting. If you have questions about the Forum or suggestions on what we can do to make Forum membership more valuable, please track me down.

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