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.
Matthew J. Kreutzer, Shareholder at Howard & Howard PLLC: Howard & Howard's focus is on providing value and core legal services to business clients. The firm's reputation has grown for creativity, practicality and providing solutions in a cost-conscious environment. Howard & Howard is the law firm of choice for sophisticated purchasers of legal services in business and industry, which count on Howard & Howard to solve their legal problems with independent thinking and trusted insight. Howard & Howard has more than 140 attorneys with offices in Michigan, Illinois, Nevada and California.
1851: What are some must-ask questions when franchisors and franchisees are vetting potential franchise attorneys?
Kreutzer: For franchisors: First, does the attorney focus his or her practice entirely on franchising, or does the attorney handle other legal matters outside of franchise law? Second, what experience does the attorney have in drafting franchise disclosure documents and franchise agreements, handling franchise registrations and advising franchisors regarding franchise disputes and franchisee relations?
For franchisees: First, what experience does the attorney have in reviewing franchise agreements and franchise disclosure documents? Second, does the attorney have experience in handling franchise disputes and litigation?
1851: In broad terms, do you have a particular case that stands out to you as an industry learning experience?
Kreutzer: Yes. In a litigation matter involving a franchisee-franchisor dispute, where the franchisor had the great weight of the law and legal precedent on its site, the franchisor lost its attempt to seek a preliminary injunction, not because of the law, but because the court had a greater amount of sympathy with the franchisee. This experience taught me that even in situations when both the facts and the law are on your client's side, you can never underestimate the human element in those disputes. Even in cases where it is clear your client should win, winning is less than a sure thing.
1851: What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
Kreutzer: I love seeing my clients succeed—either through growth or success in operations.
1851: What are your top concerns for the franchise industry in the next year?
Kreutzer: The joint-employer issue continues to be one of the most serious issues plaguing the franchise industry. Further, it is very important that we have some certainty regarding anti-poaching provisions and the circumstances under which they will not be enforced.
1851: What are you most optimistic about in the franchise industry in the next year?
Kreutzer: I’m optimistic about continued growth; I think the industry is going to continue to grow and mature in 2019.