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Top Franchise Lawyers: Jason M. Murray of K&L Gates LLP

1851 Franchise’s annual compilation of great franchise attorneys.

1851 interviewed K&L Gates LLP’s Jason M. Murray about the state of franchising, what makes a franchise attorney awesome and his advice for growth-minded franchisors.

About Jason M. Murray:

Jason M. Murray practices in the area of franchise and distribution law and provides counsel and assistance with creating, managing, licensing, protecting and enforcing franchised business relationships, product distribution systems and dealership networks. His franchise and distribution law practice specifically relate to licensing and development, regulation and compliance and dispute resolution through mediation, arbitration and litigation.

Prior to joining K&L Gates LLP, Murray served as a shareholder at a corporate law firm where he focused his practice in franchise and distribution law. With more than 25 years of experience in franchise and distribution law, as well as litigation in courts in Florida and throughout the United States, Murray served as the franchise and distribution law group leader for his prior firm.

About K&L Gates LLP (from firm’s website):

The legal market is rapidly changing, and so is the practice of law. It is both science and art. Clients want their law firm to be diligent and meticulous, but they also want it to solve problems with innovation and creativity. 


At K&L Gates, we foster an inclusive and collaborative environment across our fully integrated global platform that enables us to diligently combine the knowledge and expertise of our lawyers and policy professionals to create teams that provide exceptional client solutions. We marry process with vision, success with dedication, and method with passion. The outcome:  “The K&L Gates Experience.” 

1851 Franchise: What do you love most about franchising?

Jason M. Murray: I love the diversity that is reflected in franchising. From the franchisor executive to the entrepreneur who becomes a franchisee, we see people of every race, color, gender and creed involved in the industry. In addition, franchising has something for everyone because virtually every business industry contains franchisors and franchise models that impact consumers and daily life. It is estimated that there are nearly 800,000 franchise establishments in the United States that annually output nearly $800 billion dollars and employ over 8 million people.  

Franchising has become prolific, and we see it everywhere as we walk to lunch, shop the malls, workout in the gym and go about our daily lives. The diversity of the people and businesses involved in franchising have yielded a wonderfully diverse and dynamic practice that keeps me excited. Overall, I love serving as a key business advisor and problem-solver that assists clients in achieving their business goals.  

1851: What makes a great franchise attorney?

Murray: A great franchise attorney should have experience representing franchisors and/or franchisees. If the franchise attorney has represented both franchisors and franchisees, then they can be a tremendous asset. The attorney should be committed to understanding many different points of view and knowing what drives decision-making for franchise systems and entrepreneurs. A commitment to understanding different viewpoints fosters creative, out-of-the-box solutions that have the potential to result in a win-win approach to problem-solving, deal-making and dispute resolution. The best franchise attorneys provide a multi-dimensional perspective and practical legal advice reflective of integrated practice in creating, managing, licensing, developing, protecting and enforcing franchised business relationships, product distribution systems and dealership networks.

1851: What is the most important question to ask a franchise attorney when looking to make a change in representation?

Murray: The most important question to ask when vetting a franchise attorney is: “How much of your practice is devoted to franchise law?” Since franchise law is a highly specialized practice area, it is important to make sure that the “franchise lawyer” is not just a practitioner who dabbles in franchise law from time to time. 

The second most important question is: “Have you written legal articles for journals or spoken to your peers at franchise law conferences?” The two suggested questions will help the prospective client identify a knowledgeable and well-respected franchise lawyer.

1851: What is the number-one piece of advice you would give franchisors as to how to grow their brand?

Murray: I would advise franchisors to create and commit to a franchise development strategy that allows for smart growth and franchisee support. For example, franchisors should resist the temptation to rush into remote geographic markets due to inquiries from prospective franchisees—remote markets make it difficult for the franchisor to support its franchise partners and build brand recognition.

1851: What do you see as the top legal worry for franchisors in the next year?

Murray: The top legal worry for franchisors will involve the intersection of immigration, employment and technology. As the U.S. continues to debate immigration issues and respond to the current political climate, which calls for a more restrictive immigration policy, several sectors in the franchise industry may be adversely affected. Sectors in the franchise industry such as lodging and hospitality, quick-service restaurants, table/full-service restaurants and personal services have often relied on new arrivals for their workforce. Additionally, several of these sectors have served as pathways to business ownership for new arrivals using immigration visa programs such as E-2 and EB-5. The U.S. immigration policy and its related legal issues will continue to impact the sale of franchises and the use of immigrants in the franchise workforce. 

Franchisors are also still sorting out recent findings from the National Labor Relations Board related to the treatment of a franchisor and its franchisee as a “joint employer.”

Last, but certainly not least, the impact of technology and automation on the franchise industry workforce will present significant legal issues for both franchisors and franchisees as entrepreneurs continue to integrate digital and technological advances with their human workforce. The intersection of immigration, employment and technology will create a need for more legal contracts and thus more skillful lawyers to assist in dispute resolution.