Is Your Lawyer a Legal Eagle? Nominate Them!
The Franchise Times Legal Eagles are a unique breed—they live and breathe franchising. They’re who you call with FDD questions, legal oddities and to ensure contracts are up to snuff. These legal professionals are an essential part of the franchise industry. As we get closer to the announcement of the 2020 class of Legal Eagles, let’s look back at what makes them so great.
Peter Lagarias is among the elite in the Legal Eagle Hall of Fame, and has been working in the industry for decades, shaping the next generation of franchise legal hatchings. He said above all, a great franchise lawyer has a deep focus on the business model.
“It’s a topic that you really need to specialize in,” said Lagarias. “There’s just too much law out there and too many issues, you really need take the time to educate yourself and get the experience in it.”
He said those that do are rewarded with a unique field with a wide, wide range of issues and opportunities.
“It’s a wonderful field of law, very intellectually challenging with lots of different topics,” said Lagarias. “I enjoy working with franchisees because they’re real people, they’ve usually put their life savings in these businesses and they have a number of problems and interesting challenges to meet.”
That’s a common thread among Legal Eagles, they love the model, they love people and the mix of business and legal that comes along with it. And these are the folks that are trying to make the industry better.
Keith Kanouse of Kanouse & Walker has a background that walks the line between business and legal. He got an MBA and a juris doctor degree at Notre Dame, but didn’t want to be a litigator and had a soft spot for anti-trust work. That blend is exactly where franchise law lives.
“It’s multi-faceted, which I like in terms of various disciplines you have to be aware of,” said Kanouse, ahead of his entry to the Legal Eagle Hall of Fame last year.
He’s also interested in the industry, and has worked to make things easier and ultimately better for all parties. He said one aspect of the industry he’s especially looking for changes is to the lopsided franchise disclosure document. Written by legal teams, consultants and business leaders, it’s not always an equal partnership.
“The best you can hope for is a benevolent dictatorship. Usually that occurs when the founder is active, but once he sells the business to some investment fund, then all the sudden the whole culture changes,” said Kanouse.
Of course, it’s not a big deal when everyone is making money, but when they aren’t it can get dicey. He founded the Fare Franchising Standards in efforts to balance the FDD a little better. In his work with franchisors, he said the client is still in charge, but said a thoughtful approach helps get closer to those fair standards.
Franchsies Times Legal Eagles are helping the industry evolve as well. Ryan Palmer, a hall of famer at Lathrop GPM, said it’s been an exciting challenge to make things work for all the new entrants into the space. Private equity is one of the latest challenges for lawyers like him, figuring out how their limited holds work in a long-term contract.
“There’s been a lot of interest in franchising as a business model and trying to figure out the best way for PE to be part of a franchise group,” said Palmer. “I don’t think anyone has settled on what the best way to do it is, that’s part of the fun for the lawyer on the business side, we get to figure it out every time.”
Is your lawyer a top notch franchise legal professional? If so, nominate them today! Hurry, nominations are closing soon.