Godfather of Franchising Gets Inaugural Award
Philip Zeidman and Dennis Wieczorek are two giants of franchise law, who'd known each other for nearly their entire careers. It's only fitting that Philip, a DLA Piper partner, is the first recipient of the International Franchise Association's award in Dennis' honor. Philip tells us they used to be friendly competitors when their law firms were two of the only ones in the world practicing franchise law; in 1996 their firms merged, and eventually combined into DLA Piper. Aside from several years when Dennis was the IFA's general counsel, Philip held the role since the organization's start 55 years ago.
"It's a very meaningful award and I'm grateful for it," says Philip. "The fact that it's named after Dennis adds a special poignance. We worked together so closely for so many years, and I took pride in that."
Philip tells us that there are several big trends in the business of franchising:
- A move away from traditional products to more focus on things like service franchises such as home healthcare (due to an aging population) and education.
- There's a growing focus on technology: every franchise company is trying to harness technology to deliver its own products or services more efficiently, and other people are looking at ways new franchises can be developed based on technology.
- Mergers and consolidation.
- "Slicing and dicing" from an increased effort to segment in order to aim a brand at particular demographics.
A recent NLRB decision has "enormous ramifications" for the joint-employer concept, which has long held that the franchiser and franchisee are distinct entities and the franchiser doesn't have a distinct relationship with the franchisee's employees. On this issue, lawyers for both franchisers and franchisees are on the same side: they don't want the franchiser to be viewed as the employer. The decision could have implications in other contexts as well, Philip says, such as OSHA and various state and local laws. "This is a struggle that's going to play out for a long time," he tells us, "and will resonate throughout the franchise industry and many others.
We snapped these photographs of Philip at DLA Piper for a previous story about the "godfather of international franchising," as Chambers has called him.
Dennis—who headed DLA Piper's franchise law practice until his death—and Philip were instrumental to the firm being recognized as US News & World Report's 2016 Law Firm of the Year in franchise law. Chambers also recognized DLA Piper as the only tier-one franchise law firm. Aside from Philip's franchise work, he is on the board of New Perimeter, DLA Piper's wholly owned international pro bono subsidiary, and was a founder of the 21-year-old nonprofit Appleseed and remains its GC.