Global Franchise talks to Edward ‘Ned’ Levitt, partner, Dickinson Wright LLP
Ned has practiced franchise and distribution law for over 40 years and is the Canadian chair of the firm’s franchise and distribution law practice group. He is a renowned author and speaker and conducts business worldwide. Ned has been continuously ranked as a leading lawyer in his field and has received many awards and accolades for his work.
What was your route into franchising?
When I was a student lawyer in 1973, I was given an assignment to research a franchise problem for Kentucky Fried Chicken, which was a client of the firm. There was no research material on franchising at the time in Canada and very little in the U.S. I tried to find colleagues who knew something about franchising, to no avail. I put together the best answer I could. Then I paused and thought, what a fascinating area of law and commerce, and there are no legal experts in Canada. So, guided by the philosophy that, “in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is King”, I declared myself an expert in franchise law. At some point, the myth became a reality and I have never looked back.
Why become a CFE?
The CFE program of the IFA is rich in content and useful information. No matter what franchise experience someone has, they can benefit from the program. Additionally, the certification helps to establish one’s credentials as a knowledgeable and committed franchise professional.
What services do you and Dickinson Wright LLP provide for people in the franchise industry?
Dickinson Wright LLP provides seamless franchise legal services within and between Canada and the U.S. Additionally, the firm, with its almost 500 lawyers, can meet all of its client’s needs in other areas of law.
What have been the highpoints in your career?
Participating in the creation of franchise legislation in six of Canada’s 10 provinces, helping franchisors find master franchisees for Canada and the U.S. and resolving many large franchise disputes.
What affords you most satisfaction about your work?
I am a people person and instinctively want to help people achieve their goals and solve their problems. Accordingly, I get the most satisfaction when someone chooses me as their advisor and when I can help them chart a path to success and positive growth.
What aspect of your work offers the greatest challenges?
The challenges come from those who either do not know what they are doing or are intent on gaining something for themselves at someone else’s expense. I find it difficult to deal with unreasonable people.
How do you think other people would describe you?
Knowledgeable, energetic, dedicated and honourable.
What’s the next step in your career?
Combining my years of franchise experience and vast network of relationships to help franchisors find country masters for their system’s growth internationally.
If you had to start over, what would you do differently?
Become a dermatologist.
How do you relax?
I partake in vigorous sports activities.