Photo of Leonard D. Vines

Leonard D. Vines


“I feel that relationships are critical to the practice of law. I value my relationships – not only with clients whom I counsel and encourage to maintain franchisor/franchisee relationships, but also with colleagues and opposing counsel.” 


  • Missouri


J.D., Washington University School of Law, 1972

B.S., University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, 1969


With extensive experience representing franchisors and distributors, Leonard Vines is a nationally recognized expert in franchising. He has been ranked nationally in franchise law by Chambers USA for eight consecutive years, drawing acclaim for his skills as a creative thinker and strong communicator. He has represented national, regional and local franchisors, advising on matters including:

  • Alternatives to franchising
  • Structuring franchise and distribution programs
  • Complying with state and federal laws and regulations and defending state enforcement actions
  • Handling franchise terminations and transfers
  • Resolving franchisor-franchisee disputes including mediations and alternative dispute resolution matters

He has assisted start-up and established franchisors, as well as franchisees and franchisee associations. Leonard works closely with litigators on trial strategy and alternative dispute resolution and has represented companies and individuals on legal matters such as real estate transactions and mergers and acquisitions of franchise companies. Leonard has extensive experience helping clients resolve their disputes through his unique style of mediation--marrying his deep knowledge of the nuances of franchising businesses gained from his decades-long career representing both franchisors and franchisees, and his commitment to ethics in negotiations and understanding of the importance of strong business relationships. He frequently assists lenders who are loaning money to businesses that are acquiring other franchise companies.  

A frequent lecturer and writer on franchise topics, Leonard has spoken for groups including the American Bar Association Forum Committee on Franchising and the International Franchise Association and has written for The Franchise Law Journal and the ABA Journal. He is a certified mediator and former municipal judge and is a member in good standing of the mediation and arbitration panels of Forum.

Professional Affiliations

  • International Franchise Association, Legal Symposium Planning Committee, 2011-2012
  • American Bar Association Forum Committee on Franchising, Governing Committee, 2002-2005
  • North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), Franchise Project Group Industry Advisory Committee, 2007-present
  • Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis
  • University of Missouri School of Law, Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution, certified mediator
  • Law Journal Newsletter's "Franchising Business & Law Alert," Editorial Board

Honors & Awards

Honors & Awards

  • Chambers USA, Franchising (Nationwide), 2010-2022
  • The Best Lawyers in America, Franchise Law, 1995-2024; St. Louis area Corporate Law Lawyer of the Year, 2015; St. Louis area Franchise Law Lawyer of the Year, 2012 and 2016
  • Who's Who Legal: Franchise, 2017-2022; USA Thought Leader, 2023
  • Lewis G. Rudnick Award, ABA Forum on Franchising, 2021
  • Franchise Times, Legal Eagles, 2011-2020
  • St. Louis Small Business Monthly, "100 St. Louisans You Should Know to Succeed in Business," 2015-2016
  • "Drafting and Negotiating Franchise Agreements," Best Program - ABA Forum on Franchising, 2015
  • Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers, Franchise / Dealership, 2005-2014
  • The International Who's Who of Franchise Lawyers   
  • Who's Who in the Midwest
  • Who's Who in American Law
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent


Representative Matters

Transactional & Litigation Matters

  • Represents a Midwestern pizza restaurant franchisor, advising on day-to-day operational matters, negotiations with franchisees and regulatory issues.
  • Assists growing barbeque restaurant franchisor with overall program structure, franchise agreements, and franchisee defaults.
  • Frequently provides franchise-related advice and due diligence to providers of debt and equity investments in national and regional franchise companies.
  • Served as lead counsel to an industrial container marketer and distributor in the sale of substantially all its assets.
  • Advised a franchisor of insurance agencies on all aspects of its U.S. franchise operations, including negotiating franchise agreements and counseling and negotiating with franchisees.
  • Handled the negotiations regarding the acquisition of development rights and corporate matters for a plant-based vegan food franchise.
  • Served as an expert witness in arbitration and litigation matters.

News & Insights


Seminars & Speaking Engagements

  • "You Need to Talk to the Accountants:  Financial Statements Requirements and Options for the FDD"
    ABA Forum on Franchising, Atlanta, Georgia, October 2021
  • "Exemption Based Franchising for Established and Start-Up Franchisors"
    International Franchise Association Legal Symposium, Washington, D.C., May 8-9, 2017
  • "Beware of the 'Inadvertent' Franchise"
    Meritas Webinar, June 29, 2016
  • “Drafting and Negotiating Challenging Provisions in Franchise and Development Agreements”
    American Bar Association Forum on Franchising, New Orleans, Louisiana, Oct. 14-16, 2015
  • "Roadmap for the Default and Termination Process"
    ABA Annual Forum on Franchising, Los Angeles, California, October 2012
  • "Top 10 Pit-Falls for a Start-Up Franchisor"
    International Franchise Association Legal Symposium, Washington, D.C., May 2011
  • "Best Practices for State Franchise Registration"
    American Bar Association Forum on Franchising, Toronto, Canada, October 2009
  • "Full Steam Ahead: Tips and Traps in Drafting and Enforcing Boilerplate Clauses"
    International Franchise Association Legal Symposium, Washington, D.C., May 2009
  • Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, June 2008
  • "The Respective Roles of the Franchise Consultant and the Franchise Lawyer in Structuring the Franchise System"
    ABA Annual Forum on Franchising, Scottsdale, Arizona, October 2007
  • "Deal or No Deal? Complying with Multi-State Gift Card Regulations"
    ABA Teleconference and Live Audio Webcast, July 2007
  • "Franchising and Licensing"
    Missouri Venture Forum, St. Louis, Missouri, November 2005


Articles & Books


Blog Posts

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