Web log the first devoted to Franchise Law

January 14, 2004
Franchise Times, January 2004 by Mike Mitchelson

The Web log – or blog – isn’t just an Internet tool for hip slackers to document their lives anymore.   Heck, even President George W. Bush has one.  And now there’s one for the latest news in franchise litigation.

Wiggin and Dana announced in July the launch of the first blog devoted to franchise law.  The blog, located at http://franchiselaw.blogspot.com, serves as an “aggregator” of information pertaining to franchise litigation and other news, said Joseph Schumacher, chair of Wiggin and Dana’s Franchise and Distribution Practice Group. “We go on Google and some other sites, and we pull the information from there,” he said.  “Any news source that gets itself posted on any of those search engines is fair game for us.”

The blog provides a brief summary of, and links to, its posted articles.  Recent postings include KFC’s advertising woes, Coca Cola’s triumph of becoming the exclusive beverage supplier to Subway Restaurants and McDonald’s recent foray into the coffee bar market called – you guessed it – the McCafe’.  The blog also highlights any legislation or regulations that affect the industry.

For Franchisees or franchisors concerned about their own legal matters, there’s also a convenient link to the Wiggin and Dana Web site.   Although the firm was founded in New Haven Conn., in 1934, Wiggin and Dana’s predecessor firms date to the 19th century.  The firm’s expertise includes litigation and dispute resolution.  The Franchise and Distribution Practice Group concentrates on the relationship between the franchisor and the franchisee. 

“Because of the enormous impact that franchising has on the U.S. economy, and especially now that the fast food/obesity litigation is being so closely watched, franchising and franchise law have assumed higher profiles than other methods of distribution and area of law,” Senior Associate Kimberly Toomey said. 

The Web log is an effective tool to provide a service and to advertise the firm and its franchise practice, Schumacher said. 

“I thought the traditional newsletter was a little bit overdone, and didn’t see how we could distinguish ourselves from some of the other good ones that are out there,” he said.

But has the Web log progressed beyond its reputation as the media of choice for angst-ridden computer-savvy hipsters to post their navel-gazing daily journals?  Schumacher thinks so.

“I think one of the things that’s happening in the legal field...(is) that the blog is augmenting and perhaps threatening to replace the traditional Web site,” he said.

There are many well-established legal blogs, he said, such as “How Appealing,” which is devoted to appellate litigation.

“It’s gained a lot of currency and a lot of respect,” Schumacher said.  “My feeling was this was sort of an emerging technology, and that once you got past the, ‘This is what I did today’ blog, people would see it as a valuable tool.”

The blog can transmit more information and be more easily updated than a Web site, Schumacher said.  Unless a person is looking for something specific, they are less likely to visit a law firm’s Web site on a daily basis, he said.

“Whereas (with the blog), we’re posting information twice a day about franchising and franchise law, and I’ve had a number of people tell me that one of the first things they do in the morning now is log on to the blog...You can spend 15 minutes and you’ve basically learned what’s happening in franchising that day.”

Wiggin and Dana is currently updating its blogging software to allow visitors to post comments, Schumacher said, in order to make the site “much more interactive.”

And a daily visit to the blog is also good for business.  The last time he checked, Schumacher said the blog was the second-largest driver of traffic to the firm’s main Web site.