How To Select The Best Franchise Attorney

When buying a franchise in the Bay area, a key partnership is a franchise attorney. Here are 10 of the best in California.

Critical Considerations For Successful Legal Advice

When you buy a franchise and become a business owner, it pays to have professionals on your side. A good accountant is one. Another is an attorney. Receiving legal advice from early in your franchisee life is imperative.

In this article, you’ll learn the five critical factors to consider that will help ensure you select a great franchise attorney.

  1. Do they have franchise specialization and experience?

The attorney you select must be specialized in franchise law and on the side of franchisees. Your family attorney is unlikely to have the knowledge and experience you need. This will make sure that your questions are answered quickly, saving time and money.

  1. Are they comfortable to work with?

You must be comfortable with your franchise attorney. There must be mutual trust and respect, so that you can ask (and answer) important questions. You’ve got to like your attorney and feel at ease when talking to them.

  1. Will they do all that is needed?

Make sure that the estimate you receive covers all the advice you will need.

  1. Can they accommodate you?

Will you be able to access help and advice when you need it? Will you receive a dedicated service?

A larger firm is more likely to have the bandwidth to work with you when you need advice. A smaller firm is more likely to work with you as a partner rather than as a client. A larger firm is more likely to delegate work to junior staff. With a smaller firm, it is more likely that documents will be reviewed by highly qualified partners. 

  1. Can you afford them?

Franchise Disclosure Documents follow a set format. An experienced franchise attorney will understand the time and effort it takes to review them, and should be able to give a fixed price for their legal advice. 

When considering the cost of a great franchise attorney, you should also consider the cost of not hiring the right one.

The cost of hiring the wrong attorney

If you hire the wrong attorney, the result could be disastrous.

A couple of years ago, one of my clients decided to use their friend (against my recommendation). Their friend was a great business attorney, and my client trusted them implicitly. Because of the friendship, my client would save some money on the legal advice.

The business attorney, who had no experience dealing with franchises, red-lined 25 pages of the contract and returned it to the franchise. Again, against my recommendation. 

What happened?

The franchisor spent no time reviewing the attorney’s revisions. They informed my client that they were no longer interested in my client becoming one of their franchisees. The client lost what would have been a perfect-match and profitable franchise opportunity.

A knowledgeable and experienced franchise attorney would have known that a franchise contract is, essentially, not negotiable. The attorney’s job is to ensure that you understand what you are about to sign and to highlight anything that is not standard.

Make sure you hire a great franchise attorney

When I look for an attorney, I want one with:

  • A deep understanding of franchise contracts and the business model

  • The experience to know what is ‘normal’ and what is not

  • The ability to speak in language that is easy to understand

  • The personality to get on well with my clients

Who are some of the top franchise attorneys?

Two of the top franchise attorneys are:

Bob Steinberger

Bob’s expertise focuses on business entity formation, franchising, and civil and business litigation. He is adept at setting the foundations for franchise buyers and settling disputes. 

He has an entrepreneurial spirit that makes him the ideal legal partner for many franchisees, and offers legal insight developed from the past 17 years representing his clients.

His professional associations and memberships include:

  • State Bar of California

  • San Diego County Bar Association

  • Consumer Attorneys of California

  • America Inns of Court, Louis M. Welsh Chapter

Bob’s blog, The Entrepreneurial Lawyer’s Blog is only occasionally updated but certainly worth reading. Connect with Bob at the Soden & Steinberger website.

Lynn Shelton

Senior Attorney at Shelton Law & Associates, Lynn is a past franchisor herself. She knows the business. Industry experience includes restaurants; financial systems; construction; interior design; mining; senior care; and service industries including painting, installation, heating and air-conditioning.

Her professional associations and memberships include:

  • State Bar of Texas

  • FL Supreme Court Certified County Mediator

  • Advanced Trial Advocacy Team President; Secretary

  • Christian Legal Society Vice-President; Secretary/Treasurer

  • AAJ (Formerly American Trial Lawyers Association), Treasurer

Like Bob’s blog, Lynn’s is only occasionally updated, but is worth reading. Connect with Lynn at the Shelton Law & Associates website.

Your franchise success depends upon the help and advice you receive. Book a 30-minute free consultation, and let’s get the ball rolling – and you can ask about franchise law and which attorneys would be best for you.

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