As part of its annual Franchise Legal Players issue, 1851 profiled the top franchise attorneys in the field to shine a spotlight on the work they do for the franchise industry.
1851: Tell us about your background and your firm.
Elizabeth Sigety, Esq., Partner and Founder, Franchise, Licensing & Distribution Practice, Fox Rothschild LLP: Fox Rothschild is a national law firm with 27 offices and approximately 900 attorneys. Our franchise practice is also a national practice working with franchised businesses on corporate and litigation matters.
As an attorney practicing in Pennsylvania and New York for almost 30 years, I have handled a wide variety of corporate, finance, franchising, licensing and distribution matters and have been a trusted advisor to clients, including startup companies and entrepreneurs. As Co-Chair and Founder of Fox Rothschild’s Franchising, Licensing & Distribution Practice and Co-Chair of the firm’s Emerging Companies Practice, I offer my clients a comprehensive practice equipped to provide risk management through innovative guidance in a company’s startup, expansion or daily operations.
I have been a member of the International Franchise Association’s Women’s Franchise Committee through 2019 and have been awarded the designation as a Certified Franchise Executive by the IFA. I have also been recognized as a Legal Eagle by the Franchise Times for many years and recently as a 2017 and 2018 Franchise Legal Player by 1851. I am a frequent speaker and writer, especially on issues facing franchises, emerging and women-owned businesses, including as a frequent contributor to the firm’s Franchise Law Update blog.
1851: What are some must-ask questions when franchisors and franchisees are vetting potential franchise attorneys?
Sigety: Ask about their background and experience both in franchise regulatory work and in matters outside of franchise regulatory work. A franchised business needs advice on a large variety of matters from attorneys who understand franchising but also focus on other areas of law, such as employment, data security, real estate, intellectual property, etc. The firm should have true depth in those areas.
1851: In broad terms, do you have a particular case that stands out to you as an industry learning experience?
Sigety: I can’t point to one case, but we work with many emerging brands. It’s critical to put together adequate financing and legal and business infrastructure while onboarding the right franchisees at the start. Cutting corners can come back to haunt a system later, even after much work has been done. In addition, I find that many franchise systems are so focused on putting together the FDD that they forget or put off for too long the proper documentation of the agreement between the founders of the business. This is critical.
1851: What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
Sigety: Seeing a franchised business grow and prosper and being part of that team.
1851: What are your top concerns for the franchise industry in the next year?
Sigety: I’m concerned about many of the laws that are being proposed that do not properly recognize that a franchisee is a small, independent business where the owners have as much at stake as a business that is not part of a franchise system.
1851: What are you most optimistic about in the franchise industry in the next year?
Sigety: Hopefully the issues affecting the franchise industry related to the joint-employer standard will progress in a way that protects the franchise model.