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Philip F Zeidman
500 Eighth Street NW
District of Columbia
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+1 202 799 5272

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders: Franchise

Philip Zeidman is a partner with DLA Piper’s franchise and distribution practice in Washington, DC. He has served as general counsel of the International Franchise Association throughout his career. He was named Global Franchise Lawyer of the Year by Who’s Who Legal for nine consecutive years – every year that the award has been given. Mr Zeidman is the former chairman of the International Bar Association’s international franchising committee, holds degrees from both Yale and Harvard, and served as special assistant to the vice president of the US.

What is it about franchise law that most interests you?

The same feature that first attracted me: the opportunity to bring legal disciplines as well as commercial instincts to what remains, at heart, an entrepreneurial enterprise.

What is unique about the practice at DLA Piper?

We have the largest and most recognised practice in the world. But what distinguishes us in purely objective terms is that we have franchise law capability not only throughout the US but in approximately 25 of the 30 countries in which we have offices.

Is the “joint employer” debate likely to end in a significant overhaul for franchise practices?

Anyone who thinks he or she can answer this question with confidence is probably suffering from a delusion. My best guess is that there will be a small number of franchisors for whom this altered scrutiny will present problems. Most will need to take a hard look at personnel practices, and some contracts will need to be re-examined. But the real threat will come from the numerous and varied attacks on the model, emboldened by this episode.

Why do you think it is that the US remains the largest franchise market by a margin?

This is where it all began, and that momentum continues; and it is the largest market in the world. Most critically, the independence which franchising affords continues to resonate with millions of Americans.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a career in franchise law?

You will probably have some classmates with more leisure time, and some who will make more money. But none will have more fun.

What big challenges face the franchise industry in developing markets right now?

A maddening lack of predictability. Frustrating bureaucracy. A shortage of infrastructure. At times, an only casual acquaintanceship with the rule of law. But both challenge and reward rarely found in more developed markets.

How has your practice changed over the years to meet new challenges in the franchise and licensing landscape?

From a one-man shop to one of the largest firms in the world. From a domestic focus to an almost exclusively cross-border practice. From a tiny niche to the mainstream of commercial law. But there are constants: the thrill of being called upon by a new client, or sealing a deal, or winning a dispute. And the knowledge that, if there is an innovation in commerce, it will almost certainly find its way into franchising.

With such a long and distinguished career as you have enjoyed, do you feel that your pro bono work has enabled you to take on new challenges?

I think it might be the other way around: whatever success I’ve had in the traditional practice of law has made possible the luxury of an active pro bono life. Recent years have opened the door to cross-border pro bono, which is uniquely challenging. A well-kept secret of the legal profession is that few traditional assignments yield as much satisfaction as those for which no fee is expected.


Who's Who Legal Franchise

Philip F Zeidman is a senior partner in the Washington, DC office of DLA Piper. He devotes his practice to domestic franchising law and the rapidly growing field of international distribution, licensing and franchising law. Who's Who Legal named Philip the Global Franchise Lawyer of the Year at the Who's Who Legal Awards for nine consecutive years, reporting that when it tallied the votes, Philip "received more votes from clients and peers in the course of the research than any other individual worldwide". In May 2017, at a ceremony in London it named him the recipient of its Lifetime Achievement Award.

Mr Zeidman has served as general counsel to the International Franchise Association for virtually his entire career; he received its Free Enterprise Award in 2016. He has also served as special counsel for the Japanese Franchise Association and counsel to a number of US and foreign companies and trade associations. He served as the first chairman of the American Bar Association's antitrust law section's distribution and franchising committee, and as chairman of the franchising law committee of the American Intellectual Property Law Association.

He has been elected honorary life member of the International Bar Association and has served as chairman of the Association's international franchising committee, vice chairman of its Asia Pacific forum, liaison to its Latin American/Caribbean steering group and representative on its general professional programme committee. He served as president of the International Bar Association Foundation. He has been elected a trustee of EyeWitness to Atrocities, a London­based trust created by the association to harness technology to bring perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity to justice.

Mr Zeidman has written extensively on the subject of international franchising, distribution and licensing, including regular columns in Franchise Times. He has also written for Franchising World and Global Competition Review. He is the author of Aspects of the Market Economy: Franchising, which has been translated into Russian and also serves as a textbook for courses on entrepreneurism in eastern Europe. Mr Zeidman also served as the general editor of the American Bar Association's Survey of Laws and Regulations Affecting International Franchising; associate editor of the International Journal of Franchising and Distribution Law; and consulting editor of CCH's Global Franchising Alert and Getting the Deal Through: Franchise. Mr Zeidman is the editor of Legal Aspects of Selling and Buying (Thomson/Reuters) and Franchising: Regulation of Buying and Selling a Franchise (Bureau of National Affairs). He has written for publications including The Asian Wall Street Journal and Worldlink, and has been interviewed on such television programmes as The Today Show, The McNeil/Lehrer Report, WorldNet, CNN Asian Business Report and the CNN financial network, CNNfn. He served as a contributing editor for antitrust and trade regulation of The Legal Times and as a member of the advisory board of the Bureau of National Affairs' antitrust and trade regulation report. For 21 years Mr Zeidman chaired both the annual New York Law Journal distribution seminar and the annual bi-coastal franchising symposium, which then became the franchising segment of the annual Practicing Law Institute advanced antitrust seminars.

Mr Zeidman has spoken at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He presented "With the Best of Intentions: Observations on the International Regulation of Franchising" at Stanford Law School, published in Stanford Journal of Law, Business & Finance, for which he was the recipient of the Burton Award for Excellence in Legal Writing, presented at the Library of Congress.

Mr Zeidman has engaged in a transactional practice, testified on franchising before governmental bodies, participated in judicial and administrative proceedings, taught at universities and appeared before business and professional groups in 35 countries around the world and before the Commission of the European Union, as well as before numerous US congressional committees. He has advised a number of government bodies on franchising as a technique for international development and the privatisation of state-owned enterprises: these include the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (Paris), on work in central and eastern Europe; the World Intellectual Property Organization (Geneva), assisting in the development of its franchising guide for developing countries; the International Centre for Public Enterprises (Ljubljana), helping to create an international franchising databank for use in transitional economies; the International Executive Service Corps, introducing franchising into Morocco; Unidroit, a UN-affiliated agency (Rome), advising on the regulation of international franchising; the US Agency for International Development, working with the Indian government to assist black entrepreneurs in post-apartheid South Africa and assisting the privatisation agencies of the former Soviet Union; the Middle East Investment Initiative, to introduce franchising into Tunisia; and the World Bank, on franchising as a non-equity mode of investment in developing countries. He served on the International Chamber of Commerce's working group on franchising (Paris).

Prior to entering private practice, Mr Zeidman served in several positions with the United States government, including trial lawyer, Federal Trade Commission, general counsel, small business administration; and special assistant to the vice president of the United States.

Mr Zeidman has been admitted to practise before the US Supreme Court and in the District of Columbia, New York, Florida and Alabama. He graduated with honours from Yale College, where he was named Scholar of the First Rank. He was elected chairman of his class council at Yale, received its first Distinguished Service Award and was named its representative to the association of Yale alumni. He received his law degree from Harvard University and also studied at the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. Mr Zeidman has served as a member of the advisory board of the Yale School of Management; a trustee of the Yale-China Association; and a member of the advisory board of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Communications and Journalism of the Terry Sanford Institute for Public Policy of Duke University. He is a founding member of the Appleseed Foundation and has served as its general counsel. Mr Zeidman has been named a member of the Advisory Board to New Perimeter, the DLA Piper non­profit subsidiary, which conducts a wide­ ranging cross­ border pro bono practice.

WWL says: Thought Leader Philip Zeidman is “legendary for his work in franchising across the world”, say peers.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Franchise which can be purchased from our Shop.

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