This lesson is part of our free Franchise 101 course.
Hiring a specialist lawyer might sound like an unnecessary expense. You’re about to buy into a franchise, you’ve already got a lot of money committed to that, surely this is an area where you don’t need the extra cost?
As many experienced franchisees will tell you, this is an expense that’s well worth accepting.
As in any area of the law, one of the biggest benefits that a specialist lawyer brings is their ability to decipher jargon.
In starting with a franchise, you’ll have to deal with legal documents, especially the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) and the Franchise Agreement. There’s a lot of specialist language in these documents, language that often has specific or unexpected meanings, language that’s jokingly called “legalese”. This sort of language makes the documents more specific, which is helpful in ensuring a good contract, but makes them harder for non-lawyers to understand.
An experienced franchise lawyer can help. They will have carefully examined dozens or even hundreds of FDDs and Franchise Agreements. They can decipher the legal language into terms you’ll understand and point out anything unusual.
Knowing What You Can Negotiate
A good franchise lawyer can also help you in working out whether the Franchise Agreement is negotiable, and if so what changes to ask for.
Many established franchises will not allow you to make any modifications to the Franchise Agreement, but newer franchises, or those eager to grow, may be more flexible. An experienced franchise lawyer can recommend changes that will protect your interests and negotiate these changes with the franchisor. They may even know from experience which franchises are more likely to budge.
By understanding the legal documents and negotiating changes, a franchise lawyer can save you from difficult legal obligations further down the line.
Finding the Right Franchise Lawyer
Specialist franchise lawyers tend to have experience in one of two areas, either helping companies through the process of franchising their businesses or advising franchisees. You want the second sort of lawyer, as the first sort is experienced in the wrong side of the business for you.
Look for someone with experience advising franchisees, who understands corporate law and has helped others to get established with franchises. Their skill and experience might cost you extra at the start, but it will save you a lot of stress and expense further down the line.