Brian B. Schnell



Brian Schnell is passionate about franchising and product distribution and has devoted more than 30 years to finding practical and often creative solutions for clients. He represents franchisors with headquarters based across the United States and abroad. Brian is committed to focusing on what matters most and making a difference in working with franchisors on their challenges and opportunities.

Understanding Franchising

Brian's experience includes serving as the COO and Chief Legal Officer during 2012 for one of the country's leading health care franchisors. In the role, he led the company's field operations team and the franchise administration and legal groups.

With this unique legal and business background, Brian counsels both emerging and mature franchisors ranging from companies with thousands of locations worldwide to companies in the initial stages of building franchise systems. He advises clients that operate in dozens of industries where franchising plays a key role in the U.S. and global economies.

Brian leads Faegre Drinker’s franchise and distribution practice.

An Influential Thought Leader

Brian’s deep knowledge and skills are based on years of working closely with clients — getting to know them and their businesses, goals and objectives. He listens, asks questions and works diligently to find solutions and approaches that work for franchisors.

Brian's experience includes:

  • Structuring domestic and international franchise programs — single unit, multi-unit, area director and master franchise
  • International expansion
  • Franchise mergers and acquisitions/due diligence
  • Drafting and registering FDDs and related franchise documents
  • Franchise sales compliance, financial performance representations and lead referral networks
  • Supply chain, product distribution and vendor programs, including franchisor rebate programs
  • System expansion/"encroachment"
  • Franchise advisory councils and independent franchise associations
  • Trademark and brand protection, marketing and advertising
  • National accounts
  • System standards compliance
  • Transfers/assignments
  • Default and termination, post-termination issues


Bar Admissions



University of North Dakota School of Law
J.D. with distinction, Order of the Coif (1987)

Carleton College
B.A. cum laude (1984)

Insights & Events

Other Perspectives
  • Joint Employer/Vicarious Liability: Practical Applications in Enforcing Brand Standards Without Exercising Too Much Control
    Moderator, IFA Legal Symposium, May 2017
  • The Five Habits of the Highly Successful Franchise System
    International Franchise Expo, June 2016-17
  • The Dynamics of the Franchise Relationship in Today's Business & Regulatory Environment
    Moderator, IFA Legal Symposium, May 2015
  • Listen Up: Want a More Successful Brand? Talk 'With Each Other, Not 'At' 
    Franchise Times, August 2014
  • Moving from Conflict to Collaboration
    IFA Annual Convention, 2014
  • How to Build a Successful and Sustainable Franchise System:  It's All About Unit Level Economics
    IFA Annual Convention, 2014
  • Change to Grow, Lead to Change: Thoughts from the FaegreBD Franchise Summit
    Law Journal Newsletter's Franchising Business & Law Alert, November 2013
  • Advanced Drafting of Franchise Agreements
    ABA Forum on Franchising, 2013

Firm Blog Contributions

  • LaborSphere – a resource providing coverage and insights on breaking cases, recently enacted legislation and a broad range of labor issues

Leadership & Community

Professional Associations

  • International Franchise Association (IFA) — Supplier Forum (Past Chair); Franchise Relations Committee (Member); Legal Legislative Committee (Member); Membership Committee (Member); Awards Committee (Past Member)
  • ICFE Board of Governors
  • Law360 — Hospitality Editorial Advisory Board, 2014-15


  • Chambers USA — Nationwide, Franchising, 2009-11, 2015-23
  • Franchise Times — Legal Eagle, 2003-11, 2013-19, 2022-23
  • Chambers Global — Franchising - Global-wide, 2009-11, 2016-17, 2020
  • Who’s Who Legal — Franchising, 2018-23
  • Who’s Who Legal — Thought Leaders USA: Franchising, 2023
  • Client Choice Award — Franchising, 2015
  • International Franchise Association (IFA) — Women's Franchise Committee, Crystal Compass Leadership Award (first male to receive the award), 2009
  • Best Lawyers® — Franchise Law, 2008-12, 2015-24 (Lawyer of the Year, 2021)
  • International Who's Who of Franchise Lawyers, 2003-11, 2013-17
  • Minnesota Super Lawyers — Franchise/Dealership, 2003-11
  • The National Registry of Who's Who
Awards Methodology
No aspect of these recognitions has been approved by the highest court of any state.
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