Vol. 13 No. 4 | Fall 2010
INSIDE THIS EDITION
THE FRANCHISE LAWYER
Beata Krakus (2013)
Forum on Franchising
Message from the Chair
How time flies! It seems as if it was only yesterday when I was sitting down to write my first Chair's column – and that was over a year ago. Midway through my term as Chair of the Forum, I could not be more delighted with the progress I feel the Forum has made toward achieving both the short-term and long-term goals set by the Governing Committee over the past few years.
Short-term, we continue to focus our efforts on excellent programming, expansion of our reach to those who may not know of the opportunities and services we provide, and strong financial stewardship. With respect to all three of these objectives, I am pleased to report extraordinary progress.
Of course, with regard to programming, you likely already know about the wonderful program we have arranged for you at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego. Indeed, as you read this column, you might be there already, be on your way, or have recently returned. Through serious and intense planning and commitment, we continue, year after year, to offer new and interesting programs, and to recruit and develop dynamic speakers. These programs also provide Forum members the opportunity to set aside a few days to not only learn about franchise law, but also to experience some of the most luxurious and comfortable locations at an affordable price. Rest assured, we will continue to make this one of our primary objectives.
You probably also are familiar with our quarterly publication of the Franchise Law Journal, which is one of the most valuable services we provide to those affiliated with the Forum. I continue to be amazed with the level of scholarship and insight the publication brings to diverse topics surrounding franchising. As a result of the expanded scope of materials included in the Franchise Law Journal relating to distribution law over the last several years, we continue to grow the number of regular readers.
The Forum's publication of various books also continues in earnest. Within the next few months alone, we will be publishing the new Franchise Litigation Handbook, as well as updating a book that has become indispensable to many of us, the Franchise Desk Book. Further, our International Division continues to focus on updating the International Franchise Sales Laws, a publication that likely has the greatest geographic reach of any book the Forum has published.
Finally, we continue to use technology to leverage our ability to reach you, as well as those who are not familiar with our activities. By way of the ListServe, our quarterly teleconferences, and our "Fundamentals on the Road" program (where we bring our extraordinarily popular Fundamentals of Franchising intensive program to local bar associations), we continue to expand the reach of our programming. We also are exploring the use of webcasts, webinars, and other emerging technologies as a delivery vehicle for our material. These activities demonstrate our commitment to our mission of being the preeminent organization dedicated to educating lawyers about the nuances of franchise law.
As far as being good stewards, the Forum's financial reserves remain strong under the watchful eye of our Finance Officer, Harris Chernow. Indeed, much of what I am reporting to you would not be possible without the strong financial position we continue to maintain.
Long-term, our goals are not much different – although they are a little bit more targeted. Based on demographic research we gathered from within our own organization through member surveys and other materials provided by the ABA, it became quite clear to the Governing Committee some time ago that we, like the vast population at large, are suffering a "graying" effect. As the population in the United States ages, so too does the population of the Forum. Keenly aware that our future lies in the young lawyers of today, the Forum has made an unprecedented commitment to find, recruit, and develop a new generation of members and leaders of the Forum on Franchising.
For instance, as you likely know, several years ago we instituted a Newcomers' Networking Night at our Annual Forum. The event sets aside an evening to allow new lawyers, particularly younger ones, to meet and network with each other, thereby strengthening their long-term bonds to the Forum.
We have been extremely fortunate to have had a series of Young Lawyers Division leaders on the Governing Committee who have contributed immensely to these efforts. Virtually all of these individuals have gone on to be leaders-at-large on the Governing Committee, including Kerry Bundy, Leslie Curran, and our Chair-Nominee, Joe Fittante. Through the energetic and hard work of these folks, we have begun to establish a culture focused on making the Forum a place that is welcoming and inviting to a younger generation. Likewise, we have established a presence on Facebook (headed up by Kerry Bundy) and continue, with the help of our current Young Lawyers Division Liaison, Rebecca Prince, to look for ways to jointly sponsor events with the ABA Young Lawyers Division.
All of these efforts are laudable and have served us well. However, within the last twelve months, the Governing Committee recognized that perhaps it was not doing enough, particularly in the area of making attendance at the Annual Forum accessible for young lawyers. Accordingly, with perhaps the boldest financial move we have ever made, the Forum this year has offered first- and second-time attendees who are under the age of 36 a $500 discount off their registration fee. We are convinced that the best thing we do is to bring people together for unparalleled networking opportunities at our Annual Forum. If young lawyers do not attend, either because they simply cannot afford it or do not see the economic justification in taking time away from their offices to do so, they will never experience the thing that draws most of us to stay so loyal to the Forum. Recognizing this fact, we decided in February of this year, at our annual planning meeting, to take this bold step as part of our ongoing push to reverse the "graying" of our membership. Time will tell how effective this step will be in helping us to achieve our goals, but the early results, based on our registration numbers, are promising. I hope to be able to report back to you more specifics about this program in my next Chair's column in the Winter 2010 issue of The Franchise Lawyer.
Finally, 2011 will mark the year in which the Forum is required under its by-laws to survey, yet again, its entire membership. Watch these pages for information about where you can find the survey, how you can get it back to us, and how you can play an important role in the long-range planning of the Forum. We will take the responses we get from all of you, compile them, and then discuss them in setting our long-range goals when we get together with the Past Chairs for a day of strategic planning in January or February of 2012.
In the meantime, enjoy San Diego. Deb Coldwell and Kathy Kotel put together an amazing program – one that is not to be missed and certainly one to be fully experienced by everyone. And remember to enjoy fall while you can. After all, time flies.
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