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Top Franchise Lawyers: Justin Klein of Marks & Klein

1851 Franchise’s annual compilation of great franchise attorneys.

1851 interviewed Marks & Klein franchise lawyer Justin Klein about the state of franchising, what makes a franchise attorney awesome and his advice for growth-minded franchisors.

About Justin Klein (from firm’s website):

Justin M. Klein is one of the leading franchise and business attorneys in the United States. Chambers USA describes Justin as: "one of the top lawyers" in the United States; “a very passionate lawyer”, “very strong, savvy and efficient”, “a big picture guy”. He is one of only 138 lawyers from throughout the United States and 323 attorneys worldwide named to the International Who’s Who of Franchise Lawyers. He is recognized as a ‘Legal Eagle’, one of the nation’s leading franchise attorneys, by the Franchise Times, and has been designated a New Leader of the Bar, one of the top 40 lawyers under 40 years of age, by the New Jersey Law Journal. He is also a New Jersey Super Lawyer.

As a founding partner of the nationally recognized firm of Marks & Klein, LLP, Justin’s practice focuses on all aspects of the franchise relationship: from negotiation, acquisition and expansion, to dispute resolution. Justin has served as lead counsel in some of the most prominent franchise matters and has also quarterbacked numerous franchise transactions, both domestically and internationally, in franchise systems large and small. Justin also counsels businesses on methods of expansion through franchising, licensing, intellectual property issues and enforcement, formation of strategic partnerships and other methods of distribution.

Justin also helps business owners protect the wealth they have amassed by implementing effective estate planning, wealth management, asset protection and business succession strategies.

Justin is the current co-chair of the New Jersey State Bar Association Franchise Section and is a former chair of the New York State Bar Association Franchise Section.

About Marks & Klein (from firm’s website):

Marks & Klein is recognized by Chambers USA as one of America’s Leading Law Firms for Franchise. This reflects the law firm’s outstanding work, impressive strategic growth and excellence in client service. Marks & Klein is on the cutting edge of the franchise legal world and focuses on providing conscientious, thorough and effective legal counseling for all of our clients on every matter. Creativity, integrity and accountability are fundamental to how we practice law and serve individuals, entrepreneurs, businesses and families alike. Large, medium or small, local, national or international, our clients look to us for the soundness of our advice and results we achieve. We are relentless towards achieving positive results while putting old-fashioned personal client service first and foremost.

1851 Franchise: What do you love most about franchising? 

Justin Klein: Franchising has and continues to be one of the most impactful influences on our society. As such the subject matter relating to franchising is ever-changing and thus, there are always new and interesting issues arising from a legal perspective that make the topic so interesting. Most importantly, the franchise world is filled with people from so many different backgrounds, each of which contributes to the success and growth of the industry that there is never a time where you can’t be learning something new.

1851 Franchise: What makes a great franchise attorney?

Klein: I think the best franchise attorneys are those that have a real appreciation for and genuinely care about the industry. When a lawyer is passionate about the subject matter I think it makes them a better resource for the client. We at MK have a passion not only for representing our clients' best interests but also in the overall success of franchising as an industry and that separates us from others that may practice in the same area. 

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

Klein: I think the most important question to ask an attorney you are considering working with is: how can you be a resource for my business beyond this one issue I am bringing to you now? Knowing that your attorney can be a go-to resource in time of need is critical to their importance to the relationship.

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

Klein: Communication is key – good communication is critical to fostering the franchisor-franchisee relationship.

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

Klein: Just a few days ago I had a different answer in mind. Covid-19 will surely alter whatever was on the agenda prior to its occurrence. How franchisors react and educate franchisees, and use their resources to assist those in need will be critical to limiting the downside impact of the shakeup we are now experiencing. It is definitely too early to tell, but in the few short days that we have been dealing with the fall out for our clients, we have seen some brilliant people doing some extraordinary things to limit the downside as much as possible.