Tuesday, January 27, 2009

“Giant of Franchise Law” Passes Away

This posting was written by John W. Arden.

Lewis G. Rudnick, a pioneer franchise attorney and former Chair of the American Bar Association Forum on Franchising, passed away suddenly on Saturday, January 24, at age 73.

Rudnick was a “one of the few, genuine giants of franchise law—literally in on the ground floor of this practice area as an organized discipline,” wrote Jack Dunham, Chair of the Forum on Franchising, in a notice to the group.

A founding member of the Forum on Franchising, Rudnick served on the group’s governing committee from its establishment in 1977 to 1984, including serving as chairman of the Forum from 1981 to 1983. He guided the group in establishing its excellent quarterly publication, the Franchise Law Journal.

He served as general counsel to the International Franchise Association and the International Franchise Association Educational Foundation. Among the many honors he received was the 2004 William Rosenberg Leadership Award from the International Franchise Association Educational Foundation.

In addition to being a prominent practitioner in his own right, he trained many of today’s leading franchise attorneys at the Chicago-based Rudnick & Wolfe law firm, now DLA Piper, which has had the largest franchise practice in the world.

Among his many publications was Franchising: A Planning and Sales Compliance Guide (1987, Commerce Clearing House, Inc.), which Rudnick co-authored with Norman D. Axelrad. The book has been called a “classic in the field.”

Besides his impressive professional accomplishments, Rudnick was a beloved figure in the franchise legal and business communities. “I have never heard of anyone who did not like and respect Lew nor have I ever heard anyone make a negative statement about him,” said Lee Abrams, another former chair of the Forum.

Other franchise attorneys have called him “a gentleman in every sense of the word,” a “role model,” and “the least self-important important person I have ever known.”

Rudnick’s memorial service on Monday, January 26, was a testament to his life, drawing an overflow crowd to Piser Chapel in Skokie, Illinois. Among the attendees were many franchise attorneys from across the country.

A death notice and electronic guest book appears here.

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