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Richard A. Solomon Passes Away

Franchisee attorney Richard A. Solomon passed away at home on May 19, 2017 from cardiac arrest. Born in Brooklyn, New York on December 14, 1937, Solomon was taken in by a Catholic orphanage and was later adopted by a Jewish family in Charleston, South Carolina.

He attended The Citadel, a military college in Charleston, where he earned a bachelor's degree in European languages. He knew French, Spanish, Italian, Greek and German. Solomon graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1963 with a Juris Doctor degree in international antitrust law. 

At first he worked for General Mills Inc. as its antitrust lawyer for eight years as well as General Motors, then was the senior partner and founding principal of the law firm Solomon, Foley & Moran for twelve.

Solomon married and divorced franchise lawyer Sally Lee Foley, a past president of the National Association of Women Lawyers. He is survived by a daughter, who is a practicing physician, her husband and their two boys.

Over the past 25 years, Richard's companion was Belinda Matte.

"Every day was a new one with something new and exciting happening," said Matte. She added, "I hated it when he treated me like a client when he was my lawyer on several matters. He was tough but usually right.”

Solomon was a certified airplane pilot and at one time an avid motorcyclist.

He loved to read and cook. He was an avid writer, writing columns on Blue MauMau, his own site Franchise Remedies and his more freewheeling and more personal observations on life at his site Seamus Muldoon.

Solomon's long legal career had been watched for years by thought leaders in the industry. "One of the great pleasures of being a franchise lawyer is meeting great lawyers and great people all across the country," wrote Chicago franchisee attorney Carmen Caruso on learning of Solomon's death. "Richard Solomon of Texas has been at the top of my list for many years."

Solomon's message for franchise owners is best known for being one of tough love. "Grow the hell up," he once wrote in his Blue MauMau column to franchisees whom he considered to be simply whining about their franchisor and not seeking reasonable solutions. The franchise litigator focused on what was in the four corners of the signed contract above all things. He blamed dissatisfied franchisees for their business losses and for signing a one-sided contract that favored the franchisor, saying it showed a lack of due diligence on the franchisee's part. "Your problem is your fault. You made the bad investment," he wrote.

His solution for franchisees was to hire a savvy expert, whether it was a franchisee litigator such as he, a due diligence expert or a lobbyist. Franchisees needed to cough up the money to accomplish what they wanted. "You cannot just do this in-house and expect to have a good result," he argued to franchisee groups, who he saw were rarely reaching outside their circles to seasoned franchisee associations and experts to obtain top-notch help. Making use of his military training at The Citadel, he would argue to angry franchisees how counterproductive it was to only threaten the franchisor. He stressed fighting smart when necessary—but be sneaky so as not to alarm a franchisor that its franchisees were preparing the battleground.

He would chide franchisees for the lack of laws that support them and contrast that with the legal and structural support franchisors had through the advocacy of the International Franchise Association. "One would think that franchisees would organize and build their own political and legal war chest to go out and buy the kind of protection that franchisors get. They won't do that. They demand for free what the franchisor community has paid many millions to get."

His one-of-a-kind candor was food for thought and a topic of conversation for many in the franchise industry. He will be missed.

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Don Sniegowski is editor of Blue MauMau, the daily news journal for franchise & small business owners. Call him at +1 (270) 321-1268, tweet @bluemaumau or email don@bluemaumau.org.