1851 Interviews the Highest Profile Attorneys in Franchising
Name: Richard Greenstein
Firm: DLA Piper
About DLA Piper: With lawyers located in more than 30 countries and 76 offices throughout the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East, DLA Piper is a global law firm positioned to help companies with their legal needs throughout the world. We have practiced franchising, distribution and related areas of law for more than 40 years. The 20 partners and senior lawyers in our franchising and distribution law group average in excess of 25 years of experience in those fields.
Our clients operate in most of the business sectors that have adopted franchising as a method of distribution. They represent a broad spectrum of size and experience, from entrepreneurs and startup companies to large franchisors, manufacturers and distributors, with networks ranging from dozens to thousands of outlets. We have worked for clients in more than 100 countries and are respected around the world for our experience. Chambers and Partners calls us “The most distinguished player in the franchising area” and “the world’s most recognizable force in franchising,” commenting that DLA Piper “stands in a class of its own.” The International Who’s Who of Franchise Lawyers singles out 17 of the group’s lawyers for recognition, more than double the number from any other practice. The Franchise Times names 17 of our lawyers among its “Legal Eagles” (more than any other firm)—the top franchise lawyers in the US. The publication calls them “super lawyers, the go-to guys and problem solvers who have earned the respect of their peers, clients and advisors.”
Additionally, we serve as General Counsel to the International Franchise Association. We practice franchise and distribution law from offices in Chicago (312-368-4000), Washington, DC (202-799-4000), Northern Virginia (703-773-4000), Atlanta (404-736-7800), San Francisco (415-836-2500), Houston (713-425-8400), and Palo Alto (650-833-2000).
1851: How did you fall into franchising?
Greenstein: I was practicing intellectual property law at a small firm in Atlanta, my first law firm position after being an IBM attorney for more than years. Out of nowhere, the senior-named partner of the firm who practiced corporate and franchise law, decided to leave the law firm to join his largest franchise client. Before leaving, the partner asked me if I wanted to take over the firm’s franchise practice, and without hesitation, I gladly accepted. It was one of the best career decisions I ever made. It has been a great 30+ years.
1851: What do you love most about franchising?
Greenstein: No two days are ever alike. Being a transactional franchise lawyer allows me to be involved in legal matters which touch many areas of the law in addition to franchising. In addition to the standard types of legal work undertaken for franchise companies, I am fortunate enough that our franchise clients ask us to participate heavily in matters related to acquiring and selling franchise companies, acquiring or leasing real estate, trademarks and other intellectual property rights, commercial contracts, litigation and personnel matters to name just a few. Additionally, franchising allows me to represent a variety of types of clients ranging from private equity firms, single and multi-brand franchisors, minority investors in franchise companies and even lenders and other financial institutions.
1851: What makes a great client?
Greenstein: A great client is always transparent with its attorneys and takes the time and effort to fully disclose information so we are in the best position to play a critical role in their business endeavors and to provide the very best representation. Great clients view the client-attorney relationship as a partnership. I am very fortunate in that almost without exception, the clients I represent exemplify these characteristics.
1851: What makes a great franchise attorney?
Greenstein: To be a great franchise lawyer, you have to start by being a great lawyer, which means a combination of a number of characteristics: the ability to listen, always remembering that we as lawyers are not the most important part of the equation, the ability to solve difficult legal problems and excellent judgment and perspective. On top of these characteristics, you have to have knowledge, expertise and experience in most areas of franchising and the ability to adapt (and quickly) to the changes that occur in franchise law and within the franchise industry.