A franchise attorney takes a call on a cell phone while writing notes in his office

In Brief:

      • It’s often a good idea to consult a franchise attorney before entering franchising either as a franchisee or a franchisor.
      • Franchise lawyers can help you understand FDDs, contracts, franchise agreements, and navigate potential legal issues.
      • Below, you’ll find some reasons why you might need a franchise attorney and what to look for in one!

In the process of buying a franchise, but feel like all the legal terms involved are like a foreign language? Don’t worry, you’re not alone!

A lot of entrepreneurs are in the same boat. Fortunately, many franchise attorneys all across the United States are available to help guide you through the process and answer any legal questions. Franchise attorneys assist prospective franchisees in navigating the legal process for opening a franchise, including reviewing franchise disclosure documents (FDDs), advising on legal issues a franchisee may encounter, and much more. 

But why specifically do you need a franchise attorney? What should you look for in one? Find the answers to all these questions and more below! 


Why Do You Need a Franchise Attorney?

So, why should you consult a franchise attorney before signing any franchise agreements? They’re actually a great source of information and legal expertise when navigating the franchise buying process. Here’s just a few reasons to consider! 

Help with Reviewing FDDs

FDDs are a critical part to buying a franchise that entrepreneurs need to understand. But with 23 points diving deep into the inner workings of a franchise, they can sometimes seem a bit overwhelming to read and fully understand. 

Fortunately, this is where franchise lawyers come in! They can help you better understand the franchise in-depth, including especially important parts like fees, termination and transfer agreements, and the like. 

Business Advice from a Legal Perspective

Franchise attorneys can also be useful for entrepreneurs looking to establish their own businesses and become franchisors. They can help guide you through the process of determining what type of business your’s should be incorporated as, such as an LLC, C-Corporation, Subchapter S Corporation, and the like. 

Understanding how these differ will determine important aspects of business ownership, including legal liabilities, taxes, and more. 

Advice on Potential Legal Issues

Franchising offers a path towards becoming your own boss and financial independence but, like any business venture, has the potential for legal issues, such as employee termination, contract disputes with vendors, and more. 

What’s the best way to handle these? Consulting with a franchise lawyer first can be a great way to have a better grasp on how to handle these legal issues should they arise! 

Help with Reading and Reviewing Contracts

Before signing a franchise agreement or any other types of contracts, a franchise lawyer can help you better understand them. Doing this beforehand is critical, since it lets you ask questions, protect yourself from potential legal issues, fully understand the terms of the agreement and the responsibilities of each party, and the like. 

Bottom line – talk with a franchise attorney before actually signing on the bottom line! 

Hammer and gavel used in a court case involving a franchise attorney

How to Choose the Right Franchise Attorney

Finding the right franchise lawyer can be tricky. You need someone who offers the right mix of experience, affordability, and accessibility. Here’s a few key points to keep in mind! 

Credentials

First and foremost, make sure your franchise attorney is well-credentialed! Do some quick research online to verify their qualifications, such as their experience and which law school they attended. 

Experience

Experience is something else to seriously take into account, but the right experience is what really matters. If you’re a prospective franchisee looking for a franchise lawyer to help review an FDD, it’s important to find an attorney who specializes in working with franchisees. Likewise, if you’re a business owner weighing whether to start franchising or not, finding a lawyer who works with franchisors is key. 

Ultimately, it’s not just experience that matters, but the right experience! 

Legal Focus

Similarly, it’s important to take an attorney’s legal focus into account too. Attorneys who specialize in transactional law can help clients with reviewing FDDs and preparing other legal documents and contracts. However, a litigation lawyer is the place to go if you’re seeking legal counsel for an impending court case. Be sure to do your homework beforehand to hire an attorney focused on the area of law you need. 

Cost

Take the law firm’s pricing into account too and make sure you can afford it. Be sure to verify their pay structure, such as whether they charge flat fees or hourly rates, to confirm that they fit your budget. 

Industry Knowledge

Finding a general franchise lawyer may work fine for some entrepreneurs. However, finding one with experience and expertise in a particular niche may be much more preferable. For example, if you’re looking to get into the restaurant business as a franchisee, it may be helpful to take your time to find an attorney who specializes in working with quick serve restaurants (QSR) franchisees and has a deep knowledge of the restaurant industry in general. 

Accessibility

Finally, make sure that your franchise lawyer is accessible to you when you need them. Be sure to specify which method of communication you prefer – email, phone, in-person, and the like – to make working with them as seamless and simple as possible. 

Find the Franchise Attorney That’s Right For You!

Before deciding to buy a franchise, it’s almost always a good idea to consult with a franchise attorney first. They often can point you in the right direction when going over FDDs, answer your questions about the franchisee-franchisor relationship, and in general be a strong source of counsel and guidance as you navigate the path to becoming your own boss through franchising. 

So, if you’re still deciding whether to consult with one, consider it an open-and-shut case. Talk with one to help guide you through the franchise buying process! 

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