Strategic Research Sponsor of the American Bar Association's Section of International Law
Philip F Zeidman
Office:
500 Eighth Street NW
20004
City:
Washington
State:
District of Columbia
Country:
USA
Tel:
+1 202 799 4272
Fax:
+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 served as general counsel of the International Franchise Association for most of his career. He was named Global Franchise Lawyer of the year by Who’s Who Legal for nine consecutive years – every year that award had been made – and in 2017 received its Lifetime Achievement Award. He served as a trial lawyer for the Federal Trade Commission, general counsel to the Small Business Administration and special assistant to the Vice President of the United States.

WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO ENTER THE LEGAL PROFESSION?

My father was a lawyer. As life has turned out, my own career was very different than his (a sole practitioner in Alabama). But I am frequently struck by how often the experiences, the turns of phrase, the habits of mind, are reminiscent.

WHAT IS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE FACING FRANCHISE LAWYERS IN YOUR JURISDICTION?

As in every other jurisdiction, as “franchise law” (especially the disclosure aspects) becomes more commoditised, the race is on to seek out more complex, higher-value facets of the law. Washington presents opportunities of that sort: every time the federal government even contemplates an action which might affect franchising, the speed dials go to work. And certainly we have a leg up on international developments. We don’t have a concentration of financial or industrial companies here, but that is less of a disadvantage in franchising than in many other fields of law.

WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING CASE YOU HAVE WORKED ON?

I’m tempted to say, “the next one”. But I suppose it was when I was quite a young lawyer, at the very dawn of franchising. One of the largest franchisors in the world had lost a devastating jury verdict, with a damage award exceeding the net worth of the company. They came to me and asked me to undertake the appeal of that ruinous verdict. I did. I learned some law, and made some. I was lucky, and we won, and it was a hell of a lot of fun.

WHAT IMPACT DO YOU FEEL THE INCREASE OF DIGITAL MARKETING WILL HAVE ON FRANCHISORS?

Enormous. Every aspect of the business of franchising will need to consider what is required to address the change, and to anticipate the next development, and the next one.

HAVE THERE BEEN ANY IMMEDIATE EFFECTS ON THE US FRANCHISE MARKET AS A RESULT OF THE CHANGE OF ADMINISTRATION EARLIER THIS YEAR? 

Most of the effects are simply reflections of those facing businesses generally. To the extent there is any identifiable “franchise-specific” change, it probably lies in the developments in the joint-employer field. But our clients in other countries are almost comically curious about what is happening here. Some must think we camp out in the Oval Office; I can’t say we try very hard to disabuse them of that notion.

WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL BE THE BIGGEST FRANCHISING TRENDS TO LOOK OUT FOR OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS?

More cross-border, including into as well as out of the US. Franchisors are trying to anticipate technological change, and to harness it rather than be consumed by it. The slowdown in small business startups, disproportionately affecting franchising.

The increasing concentration of growth in multi-unit franchisees.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE?

It’s hard to select one; I’ve been very fortunate. I guess I would have to say flying to London in 2017 for a formal dinner, where I was honoured by the receipt of Who’s Who Legal’s Lifetime Achievement Award. I wasn’t at all sure I deserved it, but I didn’t turn it down.

WHAT, IF ANYTHING, ARE YOU STILL HOPING TO ACHIEVE IN YOUR LEGAL CAREER? 

My first reaction is to give a smart-alecky response, along the lines of “my career is at too early a stage to be thinking about a legacy”. On reflection, and more seriously, the answer is twofold: first, not to do anything which puts in jeopardy whatever reputation I’ve acquired; but, at the same time, second, not to let that conservative, risk-averse mindset stifle the impulse to take on a new and interesting client, cause, or worthwhile activity.

Biography:

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 UnionÍž 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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