Photo of Robert A. Smith


J.D., Columbus School of Law, The Catholic University of America; Graduated first in class

B.A., summa cum laude, The Catholic University of America; Phi Beta Kappa

Law Journals

Member, Catholic University Law Review

Bar and Court Admissions

District of Columbia Bar

Robert A. Smith


Practice Areas

Bob helps companies grow their businesses through franchising. He specializes in representing U.S. franchisors expanding internationally and serving as franchise counsel in complex financial transactions, including whole business securitization transactions. Bob is rated among the nation’s leading franchise lawyers by Chambers USA, which cites clients who commented that he “has a tremendous amount of experience and has a great business mind. The value he brings to our company is extraordinary.” Clients appreciate that “he makes himself available—it almost feels like he’s our in-house counsel and he’s in the office down the hall.”

Representative Experience

  • Represents franchisors on a continuous stream of international franchise projects, including new master franchise, development and area representative agreements, joint ventures, franchise terminations, ownership changes, and regulatory compliance in more than 80 countries.
  • Franchise counsel in a wide variety of financial transactions, including a $1.25 billion whole business securitization transaction and numerous public and private offerings.
  • Franchisor representation includes creating and revising franchise programs, regulatory Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) compliance, workouts, dispute resolution, master franchise and development agent programs, refranchising, and co-branding.
  • Franchise counsel in the acquisition and disposition of numerous franchise systems.
  • Counsels clients in establishing licensing programs that avoid franchise registration/disclosure and relationship law restrictions. 
  • Develops separate programs for franchisors that allow them to successfully develop in captive market locations such as airports, college campuses, military bases, casinos, stadiums, and convention centers.
  • Regularly trains franchisor executives and corporate staff on franchise sales, relationship and regulatory compliance issues.

Professional Experience

  • Corporate Counsel, Marriott International, representing the Roy Rogers and Bob's Big Boy Divisions (1984-1987)


  • American Bar Association (ABA), Forum on Franchising
  • International Franchise Association (IFA)
    • Advisory Board, Supplier Forum (1999-2005)
    • Planning Task Force, Annual Legal Symposium (2004-2005, 2011-2012, 2015-2016, 2019-2020)


  • Named by Franchise Times as a "Legal Eagle" (2013-2018)
  • Included in The Best Lawyers in America directory for Franchise Law (2013-2019)
  • Listed by Chambers USA as one of "America's Leading Lawyers for Business" in Franchising (2011-2018)
  • Included in the International Who's Who of Business Lawyers in Franchise (2005-2018)
  • AV Peer Review Rating, Martindale-Hubbell's highest ranking by peers for general ethical standards and legal ability

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