Most Highly Regarded Firms: California 2009 - Franchise

Our research identifies 19 California based franchise practitioners. They represent franchisors, franchisees and companies of all sizes, across a wide variety of industries. This substantial group is made up of partners from 14 firms.

Bryan Cave LLP is dominant in this chapter, with five practitioners listed. The firm has over 40 professionals working solely in the franchise and distribution area, across its international network of offices. With offices in San Francisco and Santa Monica, where all five individuals are based, the firm boasts a stellar reputation in the California franchise market. Jonathan Solish has acted as lead counsel in numerous franchise class actions, including trial cases in Texas, California and Pennsylvania. Solish is a "leader" and the "go-to guy for franchisors". Glenn Plattner is another highly regarded litigator who performed well during our research. Sources noted his "keen eye for detail". Plattner has also handled numerous appeals, arbitrations and mediations in the franchise arena. Joel Siegel's broad practice deals with complex litigation, across a wide variety of industries. He also counsels clients in franchise systems, franchise regulation and compliance, and general corporate representation and securities registration issues for franchise businesses. Kenneth Costello is a "great guy" who gives back to the Bar through his frequent speaking engagements and his respected writing. His transactional practice deals with national and international franchise matters and he is well known for his knowledge of intellectual property issues involved in acquisitions of franchising companies. Brian Cole has built on a solid reputation from 10 years in-house at a restaurant franchise. Cole is counsel to the firm and has experience in transactional and regulatory matters, which includes advising clients on a variety of operational issues, especially relating to the restaurant business.

Bartko Zankel Tarrant & Miller PC is a "very well respected" business litigation firm that counts franchise and distribution among its six key practice areas. The firm puts in another strong performance in our research, with two entries, Charles Miller and Griffith Towle. Clients that have benefited from the firm's representation include 7-Eleven, iSoldIt, Roma Franchise and Gymboree and fellow nominees were quick to identify them as leaders in the field. Miller is director of the firm and is "one of the leading people for litigation". Towle also fared extremely well during the research process and is well known for his class action related work. He was praised not only for his skill in the courtroom but for his investment in alternative dispute resolution, an area also central to Miller's practice.

Holmes Lofstrom PC is a specialist franchise boutique. The firm has represented clients that include KEI Franchising, Sansai and Pinkberry frozen yogurt, for whom Lori Lofstrom acted as franchise and business counsel. Lofstrom has a stellar reputation in the franchise field. Gerard Davey, at his own law offices, is also well respected. Davey is based in Costa Mesa and has developed a reputation as a leader in Orange County. Also in Southern California, Rodney Hatter at his own firm has served as senior associate counsel for Pizza Hut and general counsel for Taco Bell, which contributes to his reputation for being able to "truly understand his clients' needs". Rochelle Spandorf moved from Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal to Davis Wright Tremaine LLP in late 2008. She is the former chair of the American Bar Association's forum on franchising and boasts a "huge and well deserved reputation". Spandorf's practice is transactional and regulatory and clients include Red Bull North America, Roll International and uWink restaurants. She is also a prolific speaker and writer.

Peter Lagarias is the founding partner of Lagarias & Boulter LLP, a franchise litigation and employment law firm. Lagarias is "well known as a good franchise litigator" who concentrates on representing franchisees, distributors and dealers as well as franchisee associations. "Fantastic lawyer" Robin Day Glenn founded the Franchise Law Team in 1985, which primarily represents franchisors. She chairs the franchise and distribution law advisory commission of the State Bar of California's Board of Legal Specialization. Glenn is also an advocate of ADR and an arbitrator and mediator with the American Arbitration Association and Franchise Arbitration and Mediation Services.

Robert Ebe from Nixon Peabody LLP is a new addition to this chapter. One high-profile source calling him "a real star". As part of the firm's business litigation practice he has been involved in the representation of numerous franchisors.

2008 saw the creation of Dreier Stein Kahan Browne Woods George LLP following the merger of two leading South California law firms. Susan Grueneberg is "well known as a leader" and is among the most highly nominated individuals. Grueneberg is a familiar name to many in the area - she is past chair of the ABA's forum on franchising and past chair of the California State Bar Franchise Law Committee.

Martin Fern moved from Silver & Freedman PLC to Fox Rothschild LLP in March 2008. Fern co-chairs the firm's entertainment and sports law practice and a great deal of his time is spent working on new media, technology, licensing and franchising matters. Fern is a prolific writer and is often called upon as an expert witness on franchising and licensing issues. Stafford Matthews from Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP is based in the firm's San Francisco office. Matthews represents companies that are engaged in the development and manufacturing of consumer and technology-based products and has specific expertise in issues related to the distribution and franchise programmes within the wine and distilled spirits industries. He has served as chairman of the Franchise and Distribution Law Consulting Group of the State Bar and is well regarded by his peers.

Michael Lindsey from the Los Angeles office of Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker LLP is a "star". Lindsey is a specialist in trade regulation, which sees him frequently engaged in franchise related matters. He is a keen writer and has co-authored The Intellectual Property Handbook: A Practical Guide for Franchise, Business and IP Counsel, Annual Franchise and Distribution Law Developments 2003. He also served as co-editor-in-chief of International Franchise Sales Laws. New entry David Gurnick from Lewitt Hackman Shapiro Marshall & Harlan was praised consistently during this year's research for his franchise registration and compliance work. He has served clients in the restaurant, catering, lodging and retail industries, among others and is co-author of International Franchising, a text on law and strategies for international franchising programmes, and California Franchise Law Jury Instructions (Matthew Bender).

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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