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Joel R. Buckberg


Joel Buckberg counsels clients on business transactions and operations, particularly in hospitality, franchising and distribution.

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Professional Biography

Mr. Buckberg counsels clients on business transactions and operations, particularly in hospitality, franchises and distribution, including strategic planning, development, disclosure, equity and debt financing, mergers and acquisitions, system policy and practice development, regulatory compliance and commercial contracts. Prior to joining Baker Donelson, Mr. Buckberg was executive vice president and deputy general counsel of Cendant Corporation.

In his career, he has worked on the acquisition of worldwide hotel chains and their financing, de novo brand start-ups, multi-unit acquisitions, initial public offerings, hotel management agreements for existing and new build hotels, divestitures, master license grants, area development agreements, supply chain sourcing, distribution agreements, sales and marketing arrangements, and technology agreements.

Mr. Buckberg is former Practice Group Chair of the Commercial Transactions and Business Counselling Group and former Vice-Chair of the Firm’s Corporate Group.

  • Served as lead counsel for client STR, Inc. in the $450 million sale to CoStar Group (NASDAQ: CSGP). STR, formerly Smith Travel Research, is a leading company providing performance benchmarking and comparative analysis to hotels. The sale represented the largest hotel industry transaction for 2019 and will provide valuable new services to investors and service providers in the hospitality industry. The transaction included several global subsidiaries involving various countries including England, Germany, China, Columbia, Singapore, Scotland, Australia and Spain.

  • Represented the lenders as franchise counsel in one of the largest franchise system acquisitions involving a major worldwide hotel chain and a securitization of franchise system receivables to finance the acquisition.

  • Represented the lenders as franchise counsel in a multi-billion dollar acquisition of a franchised and company owned hotel chain by a major private equity sponsor, and in its refinancing through securitization.

  • Represented the private equity buyer as franchise counsel of a major pizza franchise multi-unit developer.

  • Represented the founders and owners selling a bakery franchise system.

  • Represented public company buyer as franchise counsel of privately owned hotel chain.

  • Represented private equity bidder as franchise counsel for auto aftermarket franchise system.

  • President and founder – National Franchise Council, 1998 – 2000; Chairman, 2000 – 2003
  • Chairman – International Franchise Association Legal Legislative Committee and Corporate Counsel Committee, 1997 – 1998
  • Administrator – International Franchise Association Franchise Compliance Training Program, 2007 – 2011
  • Trainer – FRAN-GUARD franchise compliance training program, 2010 – present
  • Member – American Hotel & Lodging Association General Counsel Committee
  • AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America® in the area of Franchise Law since 2008; Leisure and Hospitality Law since 2018
  • Named the Best Lawyers' 2021, 2017 and 2014 Nashville Franchise Law "Lawyer of the Year" 
  • Recognized as a "Client Service All Star" by BTI Consulting Group, 2017
  • Named to Who's Who Legal: The International Who's Who of Business Lawyers since 2009
  • Named to The International Who's Who of Franchise Lawyers, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2020
  • Named to The International Who's Who of Hospitality Lawyers, 2020
  • Named to "Legal Eagles" by Franchise Times, 2007 – 2021
  • Inductee – "Legal Eagles Hall of Fame" by Franchise Times, 2016
  • Named to "20 People to Watch in Franchising" by Franchise Times, November 2001
  • Named to "New Jersey's Top Rated Lawyers" by ALM, 2012
  • Member – Board of Trustees, Immune Deficiency Foundation
  • Member – United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

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