I have been attending the ABA Forum on Franchising for nearly a quarter of a century. I may have missed only one annual Forum meeting because of a trial conflict. Many may consider me to have a substantial amount of franchise experience and, therefore, less to gain by continuing to attend, compared to newer members. But the more Forums I attend, the more I believe I must continue to attend each year. As a franchisee lawyer greatly outnumbered by franchisor lawyers and executives at the Forum, I find it even more important to openly express to the bar the franchisee’s perspective on franchisor-franchisee relationship issues. The ultimate desire of our firm’s lawyers and of other franchisee lawyers is to establish and maintain a level playing field in this highly interdependent business relationship.
The Forum provides the perfect platform and vehicle for bringing to light aspects of the franchisor-franchisee relationship that need to be modified or enforced, depending on the specific circumstances at hand. Having that opportunity benefits both sides and permits counsel to better serve their clients by giving them greater understanding. Hearing and, more importantly, listening to the franchisee perspective may make franchisor counsel either more flexible or more rigid in their views on particular issues of fact or law. On the other hand, hearing and listening to the franchisor perspective may help franchisee counsel better understand why a franchisor can or cannot act as a franchisee would expect or accept a particular form of resolution for existing legal disputes.