THE FIRM DLA Piper is widely considered the leading firm for franchising and distribution in the USA, as a result of its unrivaled depth and breadth of practice. The team of 30 lawyers boasts extensive domestic and international expertise covering the spectrum of franchise litigation and transactional matters. It represents some of the world's largest franchisors from a diverse range of industries including retail, restaurant, life sciences and financial services. The group has handled a number of complex transactions for Roark Capital Group, advising on the purchase of Arby's Restaurant Group and assisting with the acquisition of the Corner Bakery Cafe brand and franchise system. Notable contentious matters include representing 7-Eleven in a dispute relating to breach of contract, trademark infringement and fraud claims.
Sources say: "The grandfathers of franchising law - they are premier franchise attorneys." "A formidable collection of lawyers."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Philip Zeidman is a respected and prominent figure in franchising, both in the USA and internationally. Peers are "amazed at his energy" and clients praise his responsiveness and timely communication.
Department chair Dennis Wieczorek is singled out as "a fantastic lawyer who is very skilled." He recently acted as franchise counsel to Sonic Drive-In with respect to a multimillion-dollar securitization transaction.
Michael Brennan is highlighted as a "class act - a very fine lawyer with great technical expertise." He regularly advises clients on international franchise programs and distribution networks.
Bret Lowell stands out for his experience with respect to international franchise transactions. He recently represented Destination Maternity in its expansion into South Korea.
Joseph Sheyka also handles a significant number of international transactions. "He is a very solid practitioner," say sources.
Stuart Hershman earns praise for his client-focused approach. He is noted for his expertise in structuring franchise programs, as well as handling distribution agreements and disclosure matters.
Erik Wulff represents major companies from the hotel, real estate and food service sectors in a variety of matters including distribution systems and franchise agreements. "He's a wonderful attorney," commentators note.
The up-and-coming Richard Morey is an increasingly active member of the team. He has significant experience representing franchisors in M&A transactions, and recently advised Hyatt Hotels on a joint venture development.
Tao Xu is noted for his strength in international franchising, and regularly assists US clients with their expansion into Chinese markets. "He's a very solid player," peers agree.