bannerGrowing a Franchise

Top Franchise Lawyers: Lee Plave of Plave Koch

1851 Franchise’s annual compilation of great franchise attorneys.

By Nick Powills1851 Franchise Publisher
Updated 8:08AM 07/21/20

1851 interviewed Plave Koch’s Lee Plave about the state of franchising, what makes a franchise attorney awesome and his advice for growth-minded franchisors.

About Lee Plave (from firm’s website): 

Lee has extensive experience counseling distributors and franchisors, including drafting and negotiating franchise agreements for complex international and domestic transactions and advising clients on all aspects of franchise and distribution law.


Lee also counsels clients on the application of technology to franchise and distribution systems. He focuses his attention on matters such as social networking and social media issues, e-commerce, data use and security policies, cybersquatting and domain name disputes, consumer complaint and cybersmear sites, as well as software and hardware licensing. In addition, he serves as an expert witness and also represents clients in matters before the Federal Trade Commission.

About Plave Koch (from firm’s website): 

Plave Koch is one of the largest franchise law practices in the country. Our combination of experience, efficiency, and practical, business-oriented thinking enables us to deliver first-class services at a reasonable cost.

1851 Franchise: What do you love most about franchising?

Lee Plave: Unquestionably, the passion, enthusiasm, and drive that franchisors and franchisees bring to the table is distinctive and sets franchised businesses apart. If you look around at the companies that you work with, you really absorb and pick up on that dynamic belief that problems are obstacles to be constructively resolved.

1851: What makes a great franchise attorney, as in, what makes you awesome?

Plave: Taking the time to understand what your clients are trying to accomplish, how they want to go about doing that, and understanding their long-term objectives is not always easy, but it is exactly what you need to do. Taking that all in means that you have to spend time listening (which sounds passé, but there is no substitute) and discussing those objectives before rolling up your sleeves and starting to give advice or draft documents. 

We don’t monetize every waking moment of our lives. In our new firm (at our 13th anniversary it still feels new), we have the luxury of not having to answer to layers of bureaucracy or bearing an overwhelming expense load that makes it hard to spend time – on our dime – getting to know our clients’ needs. I'm very proud to say that our clients appreciate our approach and that most of them have been looking to us for guidance for many many years.

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

Plave: I think you should consider the things that work very well in how you work with your current counsel and the things that may not work as well. Ask a new lawyer how she or he would approach those issues. Ask the lawyer about challenges that she or he sees on the horizon and how those might impact your business in the short- and long-term. Seek out lawyers whose reputation among their peers shows that they are professional thought leaders with a steady flow of work from clients that keep coming back year after year.

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

Plave: Operational excellence will drive growth. Growth without operational excellence will be short-lived and potentially ruinous.

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

Plave: Dealing with the potential of disruption from a pandemic cannot be overlooked as a significant factor. Customer spending, supply chain issues, financing, and the like will all be impacted. 

Beyond that, addressing the onslaught of new and innovating technology will define business, and franchising, for the coming year and the coming decades. Franchisors that build their brands with an eye toward remaining flexible in the years to come will find that they are able to compete nimbly not only with their current competitors, but also those who are born into a world of new applied technologies.