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.
Thomas E. O'Keefe, Attorney-at-Law and President and General Counsel for Regymen Fitness: I operate a private practice specializing in civil defense litigation. I became the in-house counsel to various franchise companies including Popeyes/Church's, SpeeDee Oil, Ruth's Chris Steak House and Anytime Fitness. I also served as President of Smoothie King.
1851: What are some must-ask questions when franchisors and franchisees are vetting potential franchise attorneys?
O’Keefe: Some great questions to ask include, ‘Do you practice in the area and not just as a transactional or contract attorney? Are you familiar with the FTC Rule? Have you drafted FDDs?’
1851: In broad terms, do you have a particular case that stands out to you as an industry learning experience?
O’Keefe: Not a case but the issue of making franchisors legally responsible for their franchisees’ employees.
1851: What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
O’Keefe: Helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses.
1851: What are your top concerns for the franchise industry in the next year?
O’Keefe: Franchisors being legally responsible for their franchisees’ employees.
1851: What are you most optimistic about in the franchise industry in the next year?
O’Keefe: The economy should create a lot of small franchised businesses.