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Top Franchise Lawyers: Amy Cheng of Cheng Cohen

1851 Franchise’s annual compilation of great franchise attorneys.

About Amy Cheng: Amy Cheng, one of Cheng Cohen’s founding partners, specializes in domestic and international commercial transactions, general corporate, and franchise, licensing and distribution law. She represents franchisors on the structuring and operation of their franchise programs through all phases of domestic and international development. Amy has extensive experience in structuring complex franchise, licensing and distribution relationships and in regulatory compliance. Her experience includes advising clients in connection with complex issues arising from the ownership of multiple brands, non-traditional opportunities, system restructuring and brand acquisition.

About Cheng Cohen LLC: Cheng Cohen was established in 2007 with a simple credo of providing uncompromising client service and sound, practical legal advice to franchise and distribution clients. 

1851 Franchise: Tell us about your background and your firm.

Amy Cheng: I have been representing franchisors for 23 years now. I used to be a partner at DLA Piper. I co-founded Cheng Cohen with Ric Cohen 13 years ago, and we have since grown to feature 18 lawyers as one of the largest franchise law practices in the country.

1851: What drew you to franchise law, and what are some of the things you like about working in the field?

Cheng: Franchise law really allows you to partner with your clients and help them grow their business. We are business advisors as well as lawyers, and it presents the opportunity to learn about so many different industries. 

1851: What is something you think every franchisor should know about franchising from a legal perspective that they may not already?

Cheng: While we preserve a lot of rights for franchisors under the franchise agreement, they still have to exercise those rights wisely. The best way for franchisors to exercise their legal rights is still to prioritize making the right choices for franchisees and not forcing them to do something. Otherwise, franchisors may end up in court spending a lot of legal fees enforcing their rights.

1851: Similarly, what is something you think every prospective franchisee should know about franchising before diving into the industry and why?

Cheng: Prospects need to be willing and eager to follow the brand’s established franchise system if they are looking to buy a franchise. If they want to be an independent entrepreneur, they probably shouldn’t buy a franchise.

1851: One of the hottest topics in franchising right now is the NLRB's joint employer ruling. What's your take?

Cheng: The latest NLRB ruling basically puts us back where we were before all this started. The last few years have forced franchisors to really analyze the day-to-day operations of their field consultants to make sure that franchisors are not stepping over the boundary when it comes to employment matters. My hope is that franchisors will not simply stop providing assistance to franchisees but will find ways to provide assistance while minimizing joint employer liability.

1851: What do you see as the biggest or most interesting topic in franchising over the next year and why?

Cheng: For the restaurant industry, third party food aggregators and ghost kitchens are changing the industry. We really have to continue to watch the growth and pay attention to developments in order to understand the impact — I suspect there will be some new players in the industry very soon.