Executive Director's Report
A Forum with Decorum
Entity Educates Attorneys in the Finer Points of Franchise and Distribution Law
Posted Aug 12, 2004 5:48 PM CDT
By Robert A. Stein
When opposing sides in the same practice area come together with collegiality, civility and genuine camaraderie to debate issues, share ideas and learn from one another, everyone is better served and advancement in the law occurs. The ABA Forum on Franchising is such a group.
The forum, chaired this year by Steven M. Goldman of Washington, D.C., educates lawyers in the diverse, challenging field of franchise and distribution law—an area encompassing contract, tort, intellectual property and antitrust law, as well as specialized state, federal and international laws. Distinguished by its quality programs, publications and openness to participation, the forum’s primary goal is to provide education for counsel to and litigators for franchisors, franchisees and distributors, whether the lawyers are in-house, in large or small firms, or solos.
PROGRAMS AND OTHER PERKS
The forum has superb benefits for those who join, including a 21⁄2-day annual program on franchise and distribution law, the Franchise Law Journal and the Franchise Lawyer, books and monographs including the Annual Franchise & Distribution Law Developments, presentations at the ABA Annual Meeting, and special-topic freestanding programs. In addition, members are able to participate in the work of its two existing divisions, the Corporate Counsel Division and the Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution Division, as well as a new International Division that is being formed this year.
The Franchise Law Journal, published quarterly, is the nation’s pre-eminent franchise law periodical. It includes feature articles, recent cases, columns and discussions on cutting-edge topics. Franchise Lawyer covers forum events and recent franchise and distribution legal news.
The Annual Forum on Franchising, which is held each October and is usually attended by more than 650 participants, is the premiere legal symposium on franchise and distribution law and is renowned for its outstanding speakers and materials. It begins with an afternoon of concurrent, intensive programs, followed by two days of plenary sessions and highly interactive workshops. “The Fundamentals of Franchising” is one of those programs, and it is presented every year for lawyers new to the practice area. All attendees to that program receive the leading introductory monograph, also called Fundamentals of Franchising.
The annual forum also includes special outreach functions for female and minority members and for solo and small-firm practitioners. These include a women’s caucus breakfast and programs addressing diversity issues, as well as social and community service events to facilitate networking and collegiality among participants. The ABA Commission on Women in the Profession honored the forum for its women’s caucus in the 2004 Goal IX Update.
The 27th Annual Forum, Exploring New Boundaries, will take place in October in Vancouver, British Columbia. It will offer several unique sessions, highlighted by a mock arbitration, in which franchisee and franchisor counsel contest before an independent AAA commercial litigation panel. The arbitrators will then provide insight on their decision-making and how the evidence presentation affected it. The program is designed to be of interest to transactional as well as trial lawyers. There will be several international workshops, including one on franchising in Canada, another on competition regulations throughout the world, and one on franchise relationship and agency laws outside the United States.
The women’s caucus and the Corporate Counsel Division use the annual forum as a site to conduct a community service event. Last year’s was the first such event, and another is scheduled at the Vancouver meeting. The forum hopes to make this a regular part of its annual gathering. During the first event, members held a Halloween party for the Lorraine Thomas Children’s Home Society shelter for abused and neglected children in Hollywood, Fla.
The forum also schedules at least one program and a traditional dinner at the ABA Annual Meeting. This year’s “Essentials of Franchising: How to Recognize a Franchise and Why You Must” will take place Saturday, Aug. 7 at 9:30 a.m. in the Presidential CLE Centre. The forum will also host a dinner for the Friends of the Forum—an informal program that helps newer attendees by pairing them with active members who answer questions and introduce them to other forum members and leadership.
For more information on the Forum on Franchising, contact its outstanding staff director, Kelly Rodenberg, at 312-988-5794 or via e-mail at email@example.com.