1851 Interviews the Highest Profile Attorneys in Franchising
Name: Rupert Barkoff
Firm: Kilpatrick Townsend
About Kilpatrick Townsend: Kilpatrick Townsend attorneys are fully engaged in the success of the firm's clients. We deliver results-oriented counsel for corporations at all stages of the growth cycle, from the challenging demands of financial transactions and securities to the disciplines of intellectual property management. A close collaboration between the firm's practice areas ensures that we are well-positioned to serve all of our clients' needs.
A fervent focus on client service is the foundation of our success. From hiring multinational, cross-industry and cross-practice area talent to instilling a commitment to client service in our firm’s philosophy and goals, we are able to continue our success as a multinational business law firm.
We serve clients around the world from our 18 offices in California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Georgia, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Washington, Sweden, Japan, and Shanghai. We value our client relationships and are committed to learning and furthering the business and the legal goals of each company we work with.
1851: How did you fall into franchising?
Barkoff: Stumble might be a better word than fall.
I have frequently said that for many of us, life is like a pinball machine. You roll along until you bump into something that pushes you in a different direction.
I was raised a corporate/securities attorney, but in 1974, an opportunity came to our firm to form a franchisee association for a major franchisor’s franchisees. When the FTC Rule went into effect in 1978, the disclosure work closely resembled securities disclosures and registration. Thus, it was a natural fit. While we still do some non-contentious work for franchisees, our practice today is primarily franchisor focused and includes registration, disclosure, contract drafting, litigation and, most importantly, franchisor-franchise relationship matters.
1851: What do love the most about franchising?
Barkoff: Two things: First, I like working with established, recognized brands as well as start-ups. As to the latter, I am currently involved in two new systems, not as a lawyer, but instead, as an active investor. It is quite a change from being a lawyer, but there are so many lawyers who are frustrated businesspeople. I am glad that I am going to have this opportunity. I have told my friends that they will all be invited to the christening of my yacht once I make my fortune from these projects.
My second love is the congeniality of the members of the franchise bar. Though we often
appear on different sides of the table, some of my best friends in the world I met through the American Bar Association’s Forum on Franchising and the International Franchise Association. Though we may be competitors and sometimes adversaries, the level of friendship participating in the franchise sector is awesome!
1851: What makes a great client?
Barkoff: A client who is smart, analytically skillful and has a true respect for people. It always amazes me how some businesspeople have no people skills. The good client is one who first wants quality services, with cost being a lesser concern, and is willing to trust his or her lawyer.
1851: What make a great franchise attorney?
Barkoff: I don’t think there is one answer to this question. In my mind, the good lawyer has a keen ability to listen to a client’s problem and then propose a solution. The great ones, however, to paraphrase Star Trek, are willing to go where no lawyer has gone before. In other words, he or she thinks not only out of the box, but out of the stadium.