1851 Interviews the Highest Profile Attorneys in Franchising
Name: Mark Kirsch
Firm: Gray Plant Mooty
About Gray Plant Mooty: Gray Plant Mooty (Gray, Plant, Mooty, Mooty & Bennett, P.A.) is the oldest continuing law practice in Minneapolis. Gray Plant Mooty is a full-service law firm with offices in Minneapolis, MN, St. Cloud, MN, Fargo, ND and Washington, D.C.
1851: How did you fall into franchising?
Kirsch: I often tell the story (which is true) that my job at age 16 was cooking Kentucky Fried Chicken at a co-branded franchised Gino’s Hamburgers/KFC restaurant in Kensington, Maryland, and I knew then I wanted to be a franchise lawyer (that last part is not true). More to the point, however, as a young lawyer, I was looking for a business-oriented, transactional practice, and one of the premier franchise practices at that time – Brownstein Zeidman & Schomer – was looking for an associate. After working with several national brands and start-ups, and addressing a myriad of issues, I was hooked. That was 31+ years ago. I have had the pleasure of working with businesses across the wide spectrum of industries, from start-ups, to small regional operators, to national and international brands.
1851: What do you love most about franchising?
Kirsch: Franchising – as an industry, as a collection of business sectors and as a legal discipline – is a dynamic mix of issues, challenges and stakeholders. Franchising businesses run the gamut from A to Z, from retail to foodservice to hospitality to services to healthcare and more. While some (or many) questions, issues or problems are similar from brand to brand, the nature of the franchise, the size of the network and the goals of the parties are varied. I like that diversity. At the end of the day, everyone is trying to improve their business – which is good – and my job is to assist that effort to create win-win-win results for the franchisor, the franchisees and the customers.
1851:What makes a great client?
Kirsch: A great client is one who asks good and tough questions, and is not afraid to receive difficult answers; who keeps their attorney apprised of business and legal issues and strategic plans in advance; and who views their attorney as a “partner” in helping to guide the success of the business.
1851: What makes a great franchise attorney?
Kirsch: A great franchise attorney – or, for that matter, a great attorney in any field – should have the following characteristics and skills: a good listener; creativity; the ability to understand both the legal and business risks involved in an issue, and communicate those risks clearly and concisely, and to help shape a solution that advances the client’s goals; to be willing to invest time and energy into learning about ancillary aspects of the client’s business and industry, recognizing that other information will provide context and insights necessary to develop coherent and strategic solutions for the client; to act and provide counsel as a strategic advisor; and to be a true partner in growth of the business.