This interview was first published by the Law Society Gazette.
I went to Bristol Polytechnic (now the University of West of England) to do my law degree and my Law Society Finals (LSF). The interesting thing was how different the LSF was to the law degree. Lots of my friends had loved the academic side of legal research during their degree but then struggled with the practical emphasis of the LSF course, to the point that they started re-evaluating career choices.
Fortunately for me it worked the other way around. I loved the LSF, with its emphasis on practical problem solving.
I also gravitated towards business and focused on getting a role in a corporate/ commercial firm in London. Once I was there, it wasn’t long before in-house roles started to appeal. Working in private practice, you are aware of being one step removed from the commercial decisionmaking of your client. The idea of being part of the management team of the client was attractive. Unusually for many solicitors at that time, my jump to in house happened quickly, within a year of qualifying. In those days, in-house roles were uncommon so I was definitely in a niche.
My first in-house role was with Laura Ashley, which was a huge international business at the time. I began to focus on international licensing and franchising. Laura Ashley licensed its brand to a number of luxury goods manufacturers, and its licensing revenues were increasing exponentially, particularly in relation to products such as bedding, eyewear and perfumes. I learned a lot about the licensing business and the legal principles of licensing intellectual property.
It was at Laura Ashley that I had my first experience of franchising. Laura Ashley then had several franchised stores in countries outside the UK.
I then spent a few years working in BT on its mobile phone business, which eventually became O2. This was at the very early stages of its franchising journey.
I took on a UK legal director role at Burger King in the early 2000s. It was here that I honed my commercial understanding of franchising, working with franchisees large and small, and liaising with counterparts in overseas jurisdictions.
I chose to leave the corporate world when I had a baby in 2004. It wasn’t long before I wanted to get back into some form of work, but in a way that worked around my family life and commitments. I looked at doing legal consultancy work for various clients and had no immediate ambition beyond that.
This is perhaps the ultimate example of one thing leading to another. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that I’d end up setting up my own solicitors firm, with a team of lawyers. I set up Goldstein Legal as a sole practitioner in 2006.
As I had so much experience in franchising, it was logical for me to focus on that industry. I applied for membership (as a legal adviser) of the British Franchise Association (BFA) and started to develop my network. Business boomed and in time I needed an ever-growing team to help me support our client base. Our clients include new franchisors (businesses who are looking to franchise their concepts for the first time); existing franchisors looking to improve their agreements or expand into new markets; and multi-unit developers who take on commitments to develop chains of franchised outlets, for one or more different brands.
Goldstein Legal was acquired by Nexa, the platform for consultant solicitors, in 2021.
I was elected legal representative on the board of the BFA in 2016 and was re-elected in 2019. I served my maximum six-year term and resigned in 2022. It allowed me to be closely involved in the strategy of the BFA – something I really enjoyed as I am passionate about ethical and best practice franchising – and working for the benefit of the UK franchising industry as a whole. The franchising industry is hugely significant to the UK economy, covering a wide range of sectors.
It is also great fun, particularly because you form relationships with enormously talented people from all over the world, in all sorts of business sectors and professions. It gives you a real sense of community. Although I never specifically set out to do it, I feel that specialising as a franchise lawyer means I truly landed on my feet.
Roz Goldstein is the founder of Goldstein Legal, a franchise boutique.