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Joel R. Buckberg


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

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® for Franchise Law since 2008; Leisure and Hospitality Law since 2018
  • Named the Best Lawyers® 2024, 2021, 2017, and 2014 Franchise Law "Lawyer of the Year" in Nashville
  • 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 Who’s Who Legal's First Edition of Thought Leaders: USA 2023
  • 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 – 2024
  • 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
  • "HospitalityTN Legal Symposium" (July 2023)
  • "Positioning for a Strategic Transaction: Getting Your House in Order," National Franchise Association Legal Symposium, Washington, D.C. (May 2023)
  • "Back on Track: Franchising Forges Ahead" (June 2022)
  • "Welcome Back – Business Returns to A Different World" (November 2021)
  • "Tenth Annual Tennessee Hospitality & Tourism Association Law Symposium" (August 2021)
  • "Managing Money and Metrics for Your Franchise" (October 2019)
  • "Claim Evaluation for the Franchisee Attorney," ABA 41st Annual Forum on Franchising (October 2018)
  • "Contracts and Leases: Reading the Fine Print," Seventh Annual Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Law Symposium (August 2018)
  • Moderator – "Beyond Validation: Using Franchisee Satisfaction Data to Build a Stronger Brand," Annual International Franchise Association conference, Phoenix, Arizona (February 2018)
  • "Developer Track – Enterprise and Unit Franchising," Sixth Annual Hospitality & Tourism Law Symposium (July 2017)
  • "Advanced Issues in Franchisor Acquisitions of Franchisees – Is Vertical Integration in Your Future?," ABA Forum on Franchising, Miami Beach, Florida (November 2016)
  • Moderator – "Using Retirement Accounts to Fund Franchise Growth," Franchise Business Network South Spring 2016 Quarterly Meeting (April 2016)
  • Moderator – "Financial Performance Representations: What Franchisors Need to Know About the Latest Regulatory Evolution and How It Affects Your Item 19," International Franchise Association Annual Convention, San Antonio, Texas (February 2016)
  • "Building Your Brand," Entrepreneur Minute (September 2014)
  • Co-speaker – "Product Distribution Agreements," Strafford Webinar (December 2013)
  • "Understanding Financial Statements," ABA Forum on Franchising annual meeting, Orlando, Florida (October 2013)
  • Co-speaker – "ABA Forum on Franchising annual meeting, Orlando, Florida," Tennessee Hospitality Association's Annual Hospitality Law Symposium (July 2013)
  • Co-speaker – "Product Distribution Agreements," Strafford Webinar (September 2012)
  • "The Franchise System Post-Private Equity Investment," IFA 2011 Legal Symposium, Washington, D.C. (May 2011)
  • "Fran-Guard: Sales Management and Compliance," 2011 International Franchise Association's 51st Annual Convention, Las Vegas (February 2011)

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