For MST Lawyers, the winning of the 2017 Supplier of the Year award at the annual MYOB FCA Excellence in Franchising Awards Gala Dinner was recognition of the long term-planning, commitment and engagement the firm have practised over 35 years of servicing the franchising sector.
Back in the mid-80s, three principals at MST Lawyers, John Sier, Philip Colman and John Turnbull caught wind of the emerging franchising trend, then still a developing business model in Australia. They invested substantial time and resources into developing expertise in franchising regulation, which was at that time governed by corporate laws, and understanding best practice franchising models. In the mid-90s, following the government’s announcement that franchising would be more formally regulated, they became pioneers in promoting and advising their clients about the new Franchising Code of Conduct.
According to Philip Colman, “This is when MST Lawyers’ franchising practice really took off. For all of us, it was an exciting initiative, and we enthusiastically went about gaining a thorough understanding of the legal environment and the business of those organisations using or contemplating the franchise model.”
Today MST Lawyers has a full-service offering for franchisors covering not only franchising law but intellectual property, leasing, workplace relations and dispute resolution.
John Sier says that it doesn’t stop there, “We not only understand the ins and outs of our clients’ franchise networks, but we’re also taking a global perspective, leveraging our relationships from the international Law Firm Network and International Franchise Association. This allows us to give strategic advice on both inbound and outbound expansion. We’re also looking at new technologies to not only improve the efficiency of our service delivery but to help our clients achieve their goals.”
The firm also keeps its finger on the pulse by its involvement in local, national and international industry associations and bodies.
“It’s all about openly sharing knowledge, knowing that this will ultimately benefit all parties,” says Senior Associate Louise Wolf, member of the 2017 organising committee of the Franchise Council of Australia’s Legal Symposium.
The firm boasts many other important postings—Dispute Resolution and Litigation Principal, Alicia Hill, is a member of the ACCC’s Consultative Committee for Small Business and Franchising, Philip Colman is a panel mediator with the Franchise Mediation Adviser, and Franchising Principal, Raynia Theodore, sits on the FCA’s Legal Committee.
Raynia, who accepted the Supplier of the Year award on behalf of MST Lawyers, believes that the firm’s long-term involvement in and understanding of the industry is the key to its success.
She sums it up like this, “Our dedicated team of professionals with expertise in all things franchising, means that we can provide a complete suite of legal services to our franchising clients. We also make it a priority to learn about our franchising clients, and with this knowledge, we tailor innovative solutions and fee structures aimed at taking the stress out of franchising. We were very proud to take out the Supplier of the Year award, as this confirms our commitment to the franchising sector.”