James Ullman

James Ullman

Of Counsel

James Ullman is Of Counsel at Dickinson Wright. Jim is a franchise attorney with more than 35 years of franchise transactional industry specific experience. Mr. Ullman began his career as in-house counsel for a company seeking to become a franchise system, which means he personally understands the process from his clients’ perspectives — he helped that employer develop its franchise system from scratch, back in 1979 when the Federal Rules regarding disclosure obligations governing franchise businesses were first established. Because of his hands-on knowledge and professional experience since then, Jim appreciates entrepreneurialism and franchise systems to a degree that few other attorneys can boast. Jim fully comprehends the needs of franchise businesses as an advisor who is flexible and accountable as well as responsive.

Jim has worked on a number of significant deals during his career, including some for national and multinational corporations. He has been credited with orchestrating a franchise law component “Latin American Deal of the Year” for one of the largest fast-food restaurant chains in the world. He has also worked for major international financial institutions, handling all business-law aspects of franchising, licensing, distribution, and intellectual property.

Education & Credentials


University of Michigan

B.A., 1968

State University of New York at Buffalo

J.D., 1971

Bar Admission

  • Arizona


  • Listed in Top 100 Lawyers in Arizona list by AZ Business Magazine (2015)
  • Named a 2014 Arizona Business Leader by AZ Big Media
  • Selected for inclusion in Southwest Super Lawyers® lists (2007 –present: Franchise/Dealership) and named among the Top 50 attorneys in Arizona (2012–2014)
  • Listed in Arizona’s Top Lawyers list by AZ Business Magazine (2014: Franchise/Specialty Law)
  • Listed in 2013 Arizona Business Leaders, published by AZ Big Media
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® (1995–present: Franchise Law)
  • Martindale-Hubbell Ranked AV® Preeminent™ 5.0 out of 5
  • Received M&A Deal of the Year Award from Latin Lawyer Magazine (2008)
  • Selected as one of Arizona's Finest Lawyers (2011)
  • Received "Best of the Bar Award," Business Journal (2005: Franchising & Licensing)

Prominent Assignments

An extremely brief sampling of Jim’s representations includes the following:

Preparation of single-unit, area development, and master franchise agreements for myriad service industries and products, including registration services in all states in the U.S.

Numerous sales and acquisitions by private equity clients of franchise systems, ranging from several million to approximately $1 Billion.

Acquisition by a client of a multinational franchised restaurant chain for a purchase price in excess of $900 million.

Representation of several investment banks in the acquisition of multi-unit franchise locations in employment services and restaurant services.

Structuring of numerous licensing arrangements in medical, fitness, hospitality, and restaurant services as exemption-based franchises.

Conversion of licensing systems to franchise systems in the travel services and trucking industries.

Special franchise counsel to several prominent law firms on matters related to the acquisition or sale of a franchise system.

Representation of U.S.-based franchisors licensing abroad and foreign franchisors licensing in the U.S.

Representing master franchisees when buying and selling units.

Acting as an AAA arbitrator between franchisors and franchisees in a myriad of disputes.

Professional Involvement

  • Recipient of Distinguished Service Award as Outstanding State Education Board Member, National Association of State Board of Education, 1996
  • Community Colleges of Arizona (Member, State Board of Directors: 1990–1997; Chairman: 1995)
  • American Arbitration Association (Member, Panel of Arbitrators: 1992–present)
  • American Bar Association (Member, Forum Committee on Franchising: 1982–present)
  • State Bar of Arizona (Chairperson, Seminars on Franchising: 1987, 1989)
  • Adjunct professor, Thunderbird Graduate School of International Management, 2014
  • National Organization on Legal Problem of Education (now Education Law Association) (Past President: 1992)
  • Citizenship Counts, Inc. (Vice Chairman: 2008–present)

Community Involvement

  • State Board of Education (Member: 1991–1997; President: 1995)
  • Citizenship Counts, Inc., Vice Chairman (2008-Present)
  • Community Colleges of Arizona, Past Member of the State Board of Director and Past President

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, District of Arizona
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of New York
  • U.S. Supreme Court


  • Author, “Is Your Dispute, Subject to Arbitration Under Your Franchise Agreement, Going to be Litigated in Court?,” DW Franchise and Distribution Newsletter, March 2017
  • Co-Presenter, "Are You Ready to Franchise or Expand Your Product or Service Line?," Quarles & Brady Franchising Workshop Series, January 2015
  • Panelist, "Franchisors and Multi-Unit Franchisees: Plan a Smart Exit Strategy," October, 2014
  • Presenter, “Look Before You Leap - Top 10 Pitfalls for an Upstart Franchisor," International Franchise Association Law Conference, Washington, D.C., May, 2014
  • Presenter, “Is Your Business Ready to Franchise?,” February 2010
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