One of the biggest benefits of membership from an in-house perspective is access to resources—not just to written materials but also to human resources. The annual meeting and the Forum’s books and publications, including The Franchise Lawyer, and the Franchise Law Journal, help keep in-house counsel abreast of changes in the law and current trends in franchising. Often, as in-house counsel, our resources are limited, and our ability to research issues is restricted by budgetary and time constraints. The Forum provides a “one-stop shop” to access authoritative and reliable materials that address many of the issues we deal with daily. The ability to electronically search papers from prior annual meetings and previously published articles alone is worth the price of membership.
Add to that the value provided by the listserve, which not only lets us leverage the knowledge of our peers and other franchise professionals, but also lets us search the archive of previous exchanges for an additional perspective on issues we face today. Participation in the listserve allows in-house counsel to stay current with local trends and to pick the collective brain of some of the most experienced franchise lawyers in the industry. It is also a great referral source when dealing with a particular issue or expanding into a new market.
Networking opportunities are an equally important benefit of membership in the Forum, especially for in-house counsel. The Forum’s annual meeting provides a venue where in-house counsel from various industries can network with one another, form lasting friendships, and compare best practices with other attorneys who may be facing similar issues in their respective industries. The ability to connect with other in-house counsel in the franchise industry and to leverage their knowledge and expertise is priceless. I often exchange emails with in-house counsel I have met through the Forum to seek their advice and learn from their experiences on topics ranging from document retention programs, to Foreign Corrupt Practices Act policies, to expansion into a new country. Many of us do not live in markets dense with other franchise companies that we can turn to for input on an issue we may be facing. The Forum makes it possible for us to connect with others similarly situated in the franchise community, which helps us be better counsel to our respective companies.
Without a doubt, membership in the Forum makes me a better lawyer and gives me the tools I need to better serve my company.