IFA’s 50th Annual Legal Symposium was designed by a task force of member volunteers with a particular emphasis on how legal and regulatory issues affect the everyday business operations of the franchise system. The program will provide value and real-world solutions to both business executives and their franchise legal partners. We will focus on the practical use of the law and the how-to’s for navigating today’s business and regulatory environment. This year’s Legal Symposium will be a training ground for what business executives and legal counsel need to know and how to put it into practice. Attendees can also earn CLE (Continuing Legal Education) and CFE (Certified Franchise Executives) credits by attending. Featuring expert speakers and timely content, our Symposium is a "must attend" event. 

Who Should Attend

  • All attorneys interested in franchise law
  • In-house counsel
  • Franchise CEOs
  • Franchise development and sales executives 
  • Franchise legal and compliance officers
  • Paralegals
  • Franchise administrators
  • Franchisees interested in learning more about the legal and business aspects of franchising
  • All others concerned with franchising's legal, regulatory and business issues



Check back soon for our world class General Session speakers!


3:00 pm – 7:00 pmRegistration Desk Open

3:30 pm – 5:00 pmLegal Legislative Committee Meeting

5:30 pm – 7:00 pmWelcome Reception

7:30 pm – 9:30 pmSpeakers' Networking Event

Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab - 750 15th St. NW
(for Legal Symposium moderators and speakers only)

8:00 am – 6:00 pmRegistration Desk Open

8:00 am – 8:30 amContinental Breakfast

8:30 am – 10:15 pm

Welcome and General Session

Check back soon for more information!

10:15 am – 10:30 amRefreshment Break

10:30 am – 11:45 am

Concurrent Sessions

Update on Joint Employer

This session will take a holistic approach to joint employer, discussing not just the NLRB’s actions from the standpoint of the franchisor, but also will discuss the joint employer activities of the Department of Labor, OHSA, federal courts, State Attorneys General, state legislatures and the likely impact of the election on the franchise industry from a business prospective.

Practical Applications in Joint Employer Liability

This session will focus on best practices of how to cope with the uncertain business environment resulting from the joint employer decision. How do you craft your franchise agreements? How do you deal with the new overtime rule? What can you do to ensure minimum wage and hour compliance? How do you get information to franchisees without incurring joint employer liability?

Practical Alternates to Termination

Communicating with struggling franchisees; franchisor resale programs; mutual terminations; mediation. Issues that franchisees face and how the franchisor can help.

A Deep Dive into Due Diligence from a Private Equity Seller or Buyer’s Perspective

Private equity ownership of franchisors and multi-concept franchisees across a broad range of industries is the new normal in the world of selling and buying of franchise systems. Private equity sellers and buyers come to a deal focused on typical considerations impacting valuation including the sustainability of revenue streams, flexibility to make system changes, unit economics and the scaling of the franchise business model for future growth. The increased volume of private equity sales, competitive jogging for positioning by buyers for the most attractive systems and in some cases, reduced opportunities for negotiation and risk assessment by buyers has prompted many private equity groups to focus their franchise due diligence efforts on data that will most quickly expose material gaps in their valuation analysis such as purchasing arrangements, rebates and commissions, marketing and advertising fund management, unit performance and reporting, standards compliance and joint employer risk, financial performance representations, international development and unit openings, transfers and closings. Panelists with diverse experiences in private equity and related deals will address a variety of the approaches used by private equity sellers and buyers to frame issues relevant to their due diligence efforts, assess and manage risks, negotiate reps and warranties, select and use rep and warranty insurance coverage and other practices likely to enhance the seller’s or buyer’s use of information about the target franchise system.

RedditAndWeep? Protecting Your Brand and Reputation in Social Media – A Continuum of Approaches From Engagement to Litigation

The ubiquity of social media presents infinite opportunities for people to pass comment on franchisors’ brands and franchisees’ locations. Whether the commenters are consumers, employees, paid influencers, or competitors, franchised brands are targets for praise and criticism in equal measure. What steps can a franchisor and/or a franchisee take when pointed criticism spills over to brand diminution? The best solutions when dealing with in social media are often negotiated behind the scenes. There may come a time, however, where litigation must be brought.

This session will address:

  • Practical pre-litigation approaches that have proven successful in the past.
  • How to assess when a litigated response is necessary, taking into account what can be considered a successful outcome and the potential cost of further bad publicity.
  • Engaging social media outlets themselves (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.).
  • What obligations do franchisor and franchisee each have to engage, or not, in social media to protect or grow the brand.

This session will provide a review of recent case law in these areas along with first-hand experiences from the panel and the audience.

International Development – Personal Guarantees and Other Mechanisms to Secure Franchisee Payment and Performance

This session is designed to address the unique issues associated with securing franchisee payment and performance in the international context. The session will examine topics including:

  • Purpose and goals of guarantees – payment of monies, performance, non-competition, and confidentiality.
  • Negotiating and drafting personal guarantees.
  • Enforcement issues with personal guarantees, including formalities in execution, choice of law, and dispute resolution procedures.
  • Alternatives to personal guarantees – letters of credit/bank guarantees/deposits, pledge certificate of deposit, capitalization commitment, security deposit, cash escrow, corporate guarantees, US affiliate, caps, trade credit insurance, etc.
  • Important role of local counsel.

Basics Track: Registration and Disclosure

  • The regulation of the offering and selling of franchises by federal and state laws.
  • State franchise registration and disclosure requirements.
  • Exemptions from registration and/or disclosure.
  • Additional filing requirements beyond the franchise disclosure document.
  • State examiner review process and comment letters.
  • The timing and process of amending and/or renewing the franchise disclosure document.

12:00 noon – 1:30 pm

Networking Luncheon with IFA Government Relations Update


1:45 pm – 3:00 pm

Concurrent Sessions

Concurrent Sessions

3:00 pm – 3:30 pmRefreshment Break

3:30 pm – 4:45 pm

Concurrent Sessions

Concurrent Sessions

5:00 pm – 6:30 pmNetworking Reception

8:00 am – 3:30 pmRegistration Desk Open

8:00 am – 8:30 amContinental Breakfast

8:30 am – 10:00 am

General Session - Judicial Update

General Session

10:00 am – 10:15 amRefreshment Break

10:15 am – 11:30 am

Concurrent Sessions

Concurrent Sessions

11:45 am – 1:15 pm

Boxed Luncheon & Roundtables


1:30 pm – 2:45 pm

Concurrent Sessions

Concurrent Sessions

2:45 pm – 3:00 pmRefreshment Break

3:00 pm – 4:15 pm

Concurrent Sessions

Concurrent Sessions

4:15 pmLegal Symposium Adjournment

JW Marriott
1331 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20004

More information on IFA’s 2017 Legal Symposium discounted room rate will be available early next year.

More Information


51st Annual IFA Legal Symposium – May 6-8, 2018; JW Marriott, Washington, DC

52nd Annual IFA Legal Symposium – May 5-7, 2019; JW Marriott, Washington, DC

53rd Annual IFA Legal Symposium – May 3-5, 2020; Grand Hyatt, Washington, DC

54th Annual IFA Legal Symposium – May 2-4, 2021; Grand Hyatt, Washington, DC


To contact the IFA Conferences Department please email or call 202-662-0763