1851 Interviews the Highest Profile Attorneys in Franchising
Name: Richard Morey
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 U.S. 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?
Morey: I started in the summer intern program of the firm that was then known as Rudnick & Wolfe. In touring the practice groups there I did some work with Mike Brennan, and also got to know Stuart Hershman and the other folks in the franchise group. The way they advised clients on not only the pure legal aspects of their decisions, but also the impact on their relationships with franchisees and the development of the system as a whole, sold me pretty quickly that franchising was a great specialty. And I've been here ever since.
1851: What do you love most about franchising?
Morey: The best part about franchising is that, for people who get it, it's all about relationships. There are always folks out there, franchisors and franchisees alike, who are looking to get in, make a fast buck and get out. But most of us who have been involved in franchising recognize that you need to invest in the long-term relationship between the franchisor and the franchisees for both parties and the brand to thrive. That's why a lot of successful people in franchising don't consider themselves to be in the hospitality industry or the foodservice industry; they're in "franchising," and they can work in a hotel chain, a sandwich shop chain or a muffler shop chain. They know that the processes and customers are different in each industry, but if the franchisor/franchisee relationship works, everybody wins.
1851: What makes a great client?
Morey: A great client is one who never takes her eye off the goal, which is a growing and thriving brand. Like the people in any friendship, family or other relationship, sometimes the players in a franchise relationship don't get along so well. Instead of reacting emotionally to a bump in the road, a good client will still focus on the long-term and either work toward repairing the relationship, or if it's truly not working out and just needs to end, will work on an exit that maximizes value and minimizes pain on both sides. That doesn't always work, and sometimes litigation is the only answer. But most times the long-term view makes sense, even when there is a dispute.
1851: What makes a great franchise attorney?
Morey: A great franchise attorney is one that strikes the right balance between advocate and counselor. As an advocate, I need to do my best to get my franchise client her desired outcome. But just because a franchisor can do something (require a remodel, for example) doesn't mean she should. So as a counselor my job is also to provide suggestions and guidance on approaches that might be more successful (like maybe further testing the remodel, getting franchisee input, etc.). This can be a difficult balance sometimes, because ultimately the client makes the call, but it's important to make sure the client is considering all the options and impacts. A lawyer who always blindly does exactly what the client asks without describing possible ramifications and alternative approaches, like the lawyer who always says "no" to a client's taking on even a little legal risk in the pursuit of her business goals, seems to be falling short of the ideal.