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7 attorneys join Legal Eagles Hall of Fame



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Hall of Fame

This year, Franchise Times is welcoming seven new members into the Hall of Fame. Each of these attorneys has been part of the Hall of Fame for 10 years, and is joining the ranks of the best franchise attorneys in the industry. Congratulations to these illustrious individuals, and thanks for being an integral part of the franchise community.

We spoke with a few our new Hall of Famers; here’s what they had to say:


Tao Xu

Q: What are the biggest challenges with international expansion?

A: I always tell my clients that they need to strike the balance. The U.S. has been very good at selling Americana, and that is what the consumers want. But at the same time they need to be able to adapt to the local environment, culture and legal system to make sure they are successful. How to strike the balance is always a challenge. Some of them are exploring alternative models, and designing the franchise system from the ground up, in a different way. I think that is very interesting and I think we will just come to that and see how successful those systems will be.

Q: What is a big trend you’re watching?

A: U.S. franchisors have been going under a change from a quantitative change to a qualitative change for international franchising. I believe in the very near future—if not already—the top 200 systems will have equal number of units outside of the U.S. compared to the units inside the U.S. That is obviously a key change for the top U.S. franchise systems.


Jason M. Murray

Jason M. Murray

Jason M. Murray

Q: What do you think is the best method of dispute resolution?

A: Having arbitrated a number of cases and serving as an arbitrator for a number of cases, I’m still a fan of arbitration. If the parties on the front end carefully draft their arbitration clauses and provisions with the proper structure and protection, they can have their arbitration run efficiently and manage costs and get to a resolution sooner and quicker. You have to think about that before there is a problem.

Q: What’s a big trend you’re watching?

A: One of the things I keep coming back to is how my clients are wrestling with issues in managing and reducing labor costs, and different kinds of exposure related to employees in terms of their labor and workforce. We see more and more franchise systems are turning toward automation and the impact of that.


Michael Ackerman

Q: What is a big trend you’re watching?

A: The trend I’m seeing is that in the systems I work with there is a lot more consolidation these days, most of the franchisees are getting larger. That is really the best way for them to survive. From my experience, people would get by on one to five stores, but now individuals and private equity companies are really stepping in and becoming larger scale franchisees. It is a trend that has probably been going on for a while now. When my partner, Dave, and I first started doing deals we were selling two to three stores and that was it. Now, we have clients who own 70, 80, 100 stores. These clients are buying the mom and pop franchisees out. I don’t think in the future there will be a ton of one- and two-store franchisees, at least in the systems that I work in.

Q: What is your favorite part of franchise law?

A: My favorite part is that a lot of the things I work on, the parties have a common goal. Everyone wants to get to the finish line; everyone wants to get a transaction closed when parties do a transaction. It is very satisfying to be able to know that you can complete something, and that it is a collaborative effort. The circumstances change every time, the parties change a little every time, but it is nice to know that you can continually get things done.


Jennifer Dolman

Q: What is your favorite part of franchise law?

A: What I love about franchise law is that as a consumer I recognize a lot of the brands. I also love the fact that you are dealing with high energy, growth-minded clients who have real-time business problems. I really like the branding aspect and dealing with entrepreneurs. There are a wide variety of clients. What I particularly like is that I get to use the crossover of all of my skills but within one industry, which makes it unique.

Q: What is the biggest challenge facing Canadian franchise business?

A: There are many unanswered questions in Canada and the law is often switching. The biggest challenge, which also makes it interesting, is that you don’t know where the courts are going to go. And things can change based on differences in the facts, and it requires being on top of the law on a regular basis and the trends. It is challenging because it is unpredictable.  

Q: What is a big trend you’re watching?

A: One trend has to do with the impact of technology on franchising. More specifically, third-party food delivery services and the impact of that on franchising. I got interested in encroachment issues, because how do you clearly indicate territories when you are dealing with global channels?


Elizabeth Weldon

Elizabeth Weldon

Elizabeth Weldon

Q: What is a big trend you’re watching?

A: I think we are at an inflection point, where people are looking at how franchising has worked, and how it should work in the future. From a legal perspective, the things that bring this to mind are joint employer and independent contracting concerns. Issues like that make people think about how franchising is working now and how it is going to work in the future. It may be because we are at the beginning of a decade or a reflection of things that have happened in the legal world, but regardless that is where we are.

Q: What is a big change since you’ve started practicing?

A: The change is that I’m seeing franchisors being more in tune with the state of the law. They are very actively looking at whatever the state of the law is and how it is changing and developments in these areas.


CONTENTS: Legal EaglesComing SoonHot TopicsAgreement Advice
Fledgling EaglesExit TimeSeasoned ExpertM&A Trends

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