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Paul Steinberg's picture

ABA Forum on Franchising & IFA Legal Symposium

Les:

I am no longer a member of the ABA (for reasons not relevant here) and even before that I was taken to the woodshed for my postings on the Forum on Franchising ListServ (the postings are available on the ListServ archives, which can be googled).

So I am hardly a fan of the ABA, and have rather publicly challenged the FoF to be more tolerant of franchisee-side views.

That said, I think your view of the FoF is unwarranted. The FoF has always had people like Jack Dunham (Subway's outside counsel) and Dennis Wieczoreck (of DLA--the outside counsel to Quizno's and the IFA) who BECAUSE of their franchisor-side bias have always striven to seek out the views of franchisee-side attorneys to present at the annual meeting and write for the publications. Jack Dunham went so far as to seek out an academic to rebut a piece Dunham was putting in the Franchise Lawyer and encouraged her to pick his piece apart and challenge him on every point.

The IFA Legal Symposium is different. I attended one year and was aghast at how nasty and anti-franchisee the presentations were-- even some of the franchisor attorneys I spoke to were bothered by the tenor.

I agree with you that the IFA Legal Symposia are an eye-opener for those that do not understand the condescending and unrelenting hostility of the International Franchise Association to the "partner" franchisees in its midst.

I spent 2 days at one, and came away with an abiding dislike for those awful people, who seem to revel in hurting franchisees rather than viewing a high litigation rate or high turnover rate as signs of matters which may be (at least partially) the fault of the franchisor.

But the ABA Forum on Franchising does try to present a balanced perspective, and if you send in an article from the franchisee perspective, they will likely print it in a heartbeat precisely because the FoF leadership is very concerned with maintaining a balanced and professional discourse (albeit not on their ListServ).

I welcome free exchange of ideas, and it is in our interest as attorneys, academics, and franchise professionals to welcome discourse. I do agree that people (including franchisors) are not angels, and that is why we have laws to limit the ability of powerful actors to work their will on the less-powerful.

--Paul Steinberg, pwsteinberg@msn.com

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