Legal Marketplace Analysis

This year, we recognise 388 practitioners from 241 firms in 65 countries as leading lawyers for franchise law. Several firms stand out, most notably DLA Piper which has individuals from seven of its offices across the US, Europe and Asia singled out. Dentons, Bird & Bird and Gray Plant Mooty all perform strongly, as does specialist franchise outfit Plave Koch, which is home to our top practitioner in North America: Lee Plave.

We also list the most highly regarded lawyers in North America, Europe and the rest of the world.

Who's Who Legal: Franchise 2014
Most Highly Regarded Individuals
Lawyer Firm
North America
Lee Plave Plave Koch, Reston
Larry Weinberg Cassels Brock & Blackwell, Toronto
Philip Zeidman DLA Piper, Washington, DC
Leonard Polsky Gowling Lafleur Henderson, Vancouver
Andrew Loewinger Nixon Peabody, Washington, DC
Rupert Barkoff Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, Georgia
Jennifer Dolman Osler Hoskin & Harcourt, Toronto
Joseph Fittante Larkin Hoffman Daly & Lindgren, Minneapolis
Erik Wulff DLA Piper, Washington, DC
Ronald Gardner Jr Dady & Gardner, Minneapolis
Mark Abell Bird & Bird, London
John Pratt Hamilton Pratt, Warwick
Anders Fernlund Advokatfirman NOVA, Stockholm
Karsten Metzlaff Noerr, Berlin
Marco Hero PF&P Rechtsanwälte, Munich
Pascal Hollander Hanotiau & van den Berg, Brussels
Rémi Delforge DL Corporate & Regulatory, Monaco
Silvia Bortolotti Buffa Bortolotti & Mathis – Studi Legali Associati, Turin
Rest of the World
Stephen Giles Norton Rose Fulbright, Melbourne
Penny Ward Baker & McKenzie, Melbourne
Stewart Germann Stewart Germann Law Office, Auckland
Luiz Henrique Do Amaral Dannemann Siemsen, Rio de Janeiro
Jorge Mondragón González Calvillo, Mexico City
Srijoy Das Archer & Angel, New Delhi
Melissa Murray Bird & Bird, Abu Dhabi
Richard Wageman DLA Piper, Beijing
Rossell Barrios Goldman Antonetti & Córdova, San Juan
Eugene Honey Adams & Adams, Johannesburg


DLA Piper boasts an “internationally renowned” franchising practice and in this edition it achieves 17 inclusions, more than any other firm in our research. Practitioners from seven of its offices across the US, Europe and Asia are singled out due to the depth of their expertise. Philip Zeidman in Washington, DC is one of our most highly regarded individuals in North America. He is hailed as the “dean of the franchise bar” on the East Coast, who “wrote the book on franchise law in the US” according to his peers.  The “very talented” Erik Wulff is highly rated for his “stellar” franchise practice, and he is considered to be “one of the best in the country” for counselling on international expansion.

The firm’s Chicago office is a “hub of activity” and seven of its individuals feature, including the “esteemed” Stuart Hershman. He has focused on this area for nearly three decades and is “especially strong” at structuring and restructuring programmes, rebranding, and terminating and renewing franchise relationships. Former chair of the franchising committee of the International Bar Association Michael Brennan also “stands out”. He is a “real favourite” with both domestic and international franchisors who value his “top-notch counsel”. “Leading light” John Verhey is a “renowned” litigator who has also been involved in more than 40 franchise arbitration cases.

In Atlanta, chair of the firm’s franchise and distribution practice Richard Greenstein is widely acclaimed for his “superb” transactional abilities. “Guru” Barry Heller is one of a trio of lawyers recognised from the firm’s Reston office.

Outside of the US the firm has a number of lawyers listed, with Beijing-based Richard Wageman garnering particular praise. He leads the firm’s intellectual property and technology group for Asia and is “very well known” for his franchise expertise. He is “especially good” at foreign direct investment and transactions in this field, assisting both local and international clients seeking to establish themselves in the region. In Moscow, Michael Malloy is the “go-to guy” in Russia and is described as “very smart and user-friendly”. Lawyers from DLA Piper’s London and Madrid offices also feature.

The late Dennis Wieczorek was recognised in this publication for many years and was considered “one of the finest practitioners” in the US for franchise law. He headed DLA Piper’s “world class” franchise and distribution practice and acted as general counsel to the International Franchise Association. Clients commented on his “commitment, creativity and spot-on counsel” and he was always their “first port of call”, especially for complex and sensitive matters. According to peers “his contribution to this area is immeasurable” and “the legal market has lost a leading light”.

Global heavyweight Dentons has eight individuals from North America, London and Dubai selected for inclusion. The Montreal office is home to two of these practitioners, with chair of the firm’s global franchise and distribution practice, Stéphane Teasdale, earning rave reviews. He is acclaimed for his “superb strategic advice” regarding transactions and disputes and clients “cannot recommend him highly enough”. In Washington, DC Robert Joseph is renowned for his “top tier” litigation practice and is “the guy” for developing antitrust compliance programmes. St Louis-based Stephen Rovak is a “grade-A trial lawyer” according to those who have come up against him in court.

With nearly five decades of franchise legal experience, Alan Silberman of the Chicago office is hailed as a “senior statesman” and “point of reference” in the market. Joel Siegel is a “notable figure” on the West Coast due to his ability to handle complex cases. Dubai-based Joby Beretta and London lawyer Babette Märzheuser-Wood both also come highly recommended.

Seven lawyers from Bird & Bird are recognised in this edition, three of whom hail from the London office. The “fantastically good” Mark Abell is our most highly regarded practitioner in Europe and is global head of the firm’s franchising, licensing and multi-channel strategies team. Peers comment on his “frightening intelligence and unbelievable legal knowledge” and he is the “lawyer of choice” for “big names” in the retail, food and beverage, education and health-care sector in need of counsel on international expansion and the re-engineering of their businesses. The “excellent” Graeme Payne and “dispute resolution expert” Victoria Hobbs are both also lauded for their work in this sector.

Melissa Murray at the Abu Dhabi office is considered an “outstanding practitioner” who boasts “superb commercial and legal understanding”.  She is “the number one choice” for franchisors entering the MENA region and is also lauded for her “very strong” litigation skills. In Singapore, the “brilliant” Susan de Silva is one of two lawyers selected. She boasts a “phenomenal understanding” of the local market and is the “first port of call” for foreign brands looking to expand in Asia. In Warsaw, Maciej Gawronski is singled out for his “enviable roster of clients”.



North America

North American firms perform extremely well in our research, with many achieving a very impressive number of inclusions, and the region is also home to many of the top practitioners in the world.

Gray Plant Mooty has 14 lawyers from its Minneapolis office featured, a testament to the firm’s “world leading” franchise practice. Carl Zwisler is a “prominent figure” at the Minnesota bar who is “highly sought after” by foreign franchisors entering the US market. The “fantastic” Gaylen Knack is valued for being “very efficient and creative” when advising both domestic and international clients. Max Schott is hailed as a “true specialist” especially when it comes to disclosure and relationship issues.

Co-chair of the firm’s franchise and distribution team Kirk Reilly has been representing franchisors in contentious matters for over three decades. He is “frequently seen in high-profile disputes” across the country and recent cases include Erin Andrews v Marriott International, Neil Ivesdal v Three Rivers Hospitality, and Country Inns & Suites By Carlson v Harkison. The “really excellent” Mark Kirsch is considered to be “one of the best transactional lawyers in the country” and he also boasts a “first-class” regulatory knowledge. Quentin Wittrock is a “big name” for preventing and resolving disputes, and Michael Gray is “in demand” due to his “remarkable trial experience”.

Specialist franchise outfit Plave Koch is very well represented in this edition, with six lawyers from its Reston office listed. Lee Plave is considered a “legendary figure” in the international franchise legal market and is our most nominated individual in North America. Peers and clients comment on his “very sharp mind” and “tremendous attentiveness” to both their legal and business needs. Co-founder David Koch is “greatly respected” for his practice, especially his work involving agreements and structuring franchise programmes. The “fabulous” Leslie Curran is a “troubleshooter” and James Rubinger also stands out for his arbitration expertise.

Six individuals from Faegre Baker Daniels’ Denver and Minneapolis offices feature, including the “five-star” Jeffrey Brimer. He counsels clients across an “impressively broad range of industries” and all the processes and relationships that franchising entails. “Top-tier” litigator William Killion is renowned for his “wonderful courtroom presence” and has been involved in many notable cases including Moody v Metal Supermarkets Franchising America, Welshans v The Coffee Beanery and American Dairy Queen v Blume. Chair of the firm’s franchise and product distribution practice, Brian Schnell is lauded for his “solution-orientated approach”, and Mary Beth Brody is a “favourite” with emerging franchisors due to her “very sound judgement and good perspective”.

Quarles & Brady has individuals from three of its offices selected, including a quartet of practitioners based in Washington, DC. John Dienelt is a “star” due to his extensive litigation and arbitration experience, having handled more than 75 cases. The “very fine” Scott McIntosh is particularly noted for his understanding of electronic discovery. Managing partner of the Tampa office David Beyer is described as a “key figure” in the Florida legal market, with peers commenting on his “significant role” in the development of franchise law in the state.

The Washington, DC office of Nixon Peabody is a “hub of activity”, achieving three listings including one of our top practitioners in North America, Andrew Loewinger. He is “one of the best in the business” for transactional advice and boasts a “truly international practice” having worked on matters involving more than 85 different jurisdictions. Arthur Pressman is a “dominant presence” in the Boston market due to his “incredible skills” as a trial lawyer. In New York, Craig Tractenberg leads the franchise and distribution team and boasts a “phenomenal track record” in dispute resolution.

Specialist franchise firm Dady & Gardner has six of its Minneapolis-based lawyers selected, including managing partner Ronald Gardner. Described as “almost in a league of his own” by peers, he is renowned for his representation of franchisees and distributors. Clients praise his “technical flair” and “ability to untangle even the most complex of issues”. The “eminent” Michael Dady is considered to be at “the vanguard” of franchisee issues in the US. Scott Korzenowski is a “major player” at the franchisee bar, having worked on numerous cases with clients in some of the most best-known systems in the US, such as Jamba Juice, Dairy Queen, Pizza Hut and Subway.

Larkin Hoffman Daly & Lindgren has a trio of individuals recognised and is home to the “extraordinary” Joseph Fittante. He is a former chair of the American Bar Association forum on franchising and is “the first choice” for many clients in need of structuring, relationship or disclosure advice. Chair of the firm’s franchise and distribution practice is the “veteran” Charles Modell who is an “extremely safe pair of hands for anything franchise-related”. Of counsel Andrew Perrin is also a “must for inclusion”, according to peers.

Rupert Barkoff of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton is one of two lawyers the firm has listed. He has been focusing on franchise law for over four decades and is rated as “A1” by clients. He is “especially valued” for his “ability to find creative solutions” to problems within the franchisor-franchisee relationship. Christopher Bussert is famed for his IP expertise within this sector.

Canadian outfit Cassels Brock & Blackwell has three Toronto-based practitioners  recognised, with Larry Weinberg boasting a “global reputation”. He is current chair of the Ontario Bar Association’s franchise law section and corporate counsel single out his “outstanding grasp of commercial matters”. Geoffrey Shaw is “at the top of his game” when it comes to defending franchisors, including in class proceedings. Frank Robinson is “highly efficient” and “always provides very practical advice”.

The “formidable” Leonard Polsky is one of two practitioners included from Gowling Lafleur Henderson’s Vancouver office. He is the founder and past chair of the firm’s franchise and distribution group and is “hugely in demand” due to his “clever, shrewd and realistic advice”. In Toronto, Jeffrey Hoffman is an “advocate of the highest calibre”, with those who come across him in court describing him as a “tough adversary”. Hamilton-based Debi Sutin has an “analytical mind that is second to none”.  Outside of North America the firm has the “super bright and very experienced” Marina Drel at the Moscow office featured.

Osler Hoskin & Harcourt is home to a trio of highly regarded individuals, with the “truly exceptional” Jennifer Dolman achieving particular acclaim. She is one of the most highly ranked lawyers in the country and is “very visible” in the legal market due to the “significant cases” she litigates. Peers praise her “masterly courtroom performances” and describe her as a “brilliant tactician”. Dominic Mochrie is known for his “business-friendly advice” and Andraya Frith “superbly leads” the firm’s national franchise and distribution practice.

Sotos is a “prominent firm” in the Canadian franchise legal market and it earns four listings in this edition. Founding partner John Sotos is a “major player” in the Toronto bar and is particularly sought after for his counsel on the merging of franchise systems. Peter Viitre is extolled for being “highly committed and always available” and Allan Dick is known for his “spot-on judgement”.


An impressive array of top franchise lawyers hail from Europe; several particularly stand out.

In England, John Pratt of Hamilton Pratt is an “internationally renowned” practitioner with “terrific experience” across all aspects of the sector. Peers “would not hesitate to refer work to him” and emphasise their “total confidence” in his capabilities.

Stockholm-based Anders Fernlund heads up Advokatfirman NOVA’s franchise and distribution group and is general counsel for the Swedish Franchise Association. He is “very accessible and easy to work with” according to in-house counsel.

Noerr has five listings, with Berlin-based Karsten Metzlaff lauded for his “unsurpassed experience”. He is considered “outstanding” on merger control issues in franchise deals and boasts particular expertise in the retail, health and media industries. Barbara Kusak is head of corporate law at the Prague office and “truly fantastic” at advising those entering the Eastern European market. In Munich, Karl Rauser “brilliantly” co-leads the firm’s distribution and logistics group and two practitioners from the Moscow office, Natalya Babenkova and Thomas Mundry, also earn high praise.

Marco Hero of PF&P Rechtsanwälte’s Munich office is a “superstar” of the German franchise bar, with peers commenting on his “market-leading practice”.

At Hanotiau & van den Berg, the “splendid” Pascal Hollander is the “top practitioner in Belgium” according to lawyers around the globe. They especially single out his “sterling” disputes work, calling him “one of the best informed arbitrators in this field”.

At his own firm, French lawyer Rémi Delforge is known for his “commercial acumen” and “ability to think outside the box”.

Buffa Bortolotti & Mathis has two practitioners singled out, with the “sensational” Silvia Bortolotti standing out in the European market. She provides “insightful advice” and a “highly efficient service”, having been active in the franchise sector for many years. Fabio Bortolotti also achieves a substantial number of nominations.

Rest of the World

Norton Rose Fulbright has a trio of listings in the Asia-Pacific region, with Stephen Giles of the Melbourne office earning numerous accolades. He is “the authority” on franchise law in the Australian market and provides “stellar leadership” to the firm’s national retail trade and distribution team. At the same office, Greg Hipwell “knows the Franchising Code of Conduct inside out” and is a “top choice” with local and international companies operating in the country. Rick Beckmann has over 15 years’ experience of the Indonesian market and is considered a “heavyweight” in the region.

Baker & McKenzie is home to the “spectacular” Penny Ward. She leads the firm’s Australian franchise practice as well as its Asia-Pacific group and “inspires confidence in even the most challenging of situations”. The firm also has two Dallas-based individuals selected, including Ann Hurwitz who is singled out for her abilities in structuring franchise programmes. In Moscow, Margarita Divina is lauded for her “versatility and resourcefulness” and Vienna-based Alexander Petsche is a “big name” for dispute resolution.

In Auckland, Stewart Germann of specialist franchise outfit Stewart Germann Law Office is one of the “premier” lawyers in the region. He is former chair of the Franchising Association of New Zealand and clients praise his “flair for seamlessly finding solutions to complex legal problems”.

The “very accessible and user-friendly” Luiz Henrique do Amaral is one of three experts recognised from Dannemann Siemsen’s Rio de Janeiro office. He has been “at the cutting edge of franchise law” in Brazil for many years and is also “much admired” for his IP know-how. Cândida Ribeiro Caffé is an “established presence” in the legal market, with peers commenting on her “devotion” to her practice. The “exemplary” Luciana Bassani is “incomparable” when it comes to transactional expertise.

The “marvellous” Jorge Mondragón of Mexican firm González Calvillo has counselled numerous well-known local and multinational systems, including Nissan-Renault and Yum!, and he is described by corporate counsel as “indispensable”.  Pablo Hooper Ramírez has played a “key role” in shaping franchise legislation in the country and Enrique González Calvillo is “greatly esteemed for his transactional proficiency.

Srijoy Das of Archer & Angel is “unsurpassed” when it comes to guiding franchisors entering the challenging Indian market. The firm also has the “very pragmatic” Sanjay Chhabra and the “extremely well-informed” Akash Bhardwaj listed.

In Puerto Rico, Rossell Barrios of Goldman Antonetti & Córdova “really knows his stuff” when it comes to the complexities of franchisor-franchisee relationships.

South African firm Adams & Adams is represented by a trio of individuals, with Eugene Honey “especially standing out”. He is acclaimed for his “solution-orientated approach and first-class legal knowledge”. Danie Strachan is “excellent on tricky matters” and Andre Visser earns a lot of positive feedback.

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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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