Executive Director's Report

A Forum with Decorum

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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.


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 protected].

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