Ayla Karmali is a dual-qualified lawyer, qualified to practice in England & Wales and New York. She has a broad range of commercial and corporate experience gained in both London and Dubai. Ayla now specialises in franchising and last year she became a bfa accredited Qualified Franchise Professional (QFP).
What are your legal qualifications?
I have a Masters and Bachelor’s degree in law, both from the University of London. I am also a New York qualified counsellor and attorney-at-law and a solicitor qualified in England and Wales.
What are your specialities?
I practiced different areas of commercial law in the UK and UAE, including international trade, commercial dispute settlement and intellectual property. Since joining Goldstein Legal, my practice has been centered around franchising and licencing, including international franchising, as well as providing business law services such as advising on business acquisitions and drafting a broad range of commercial agreements including software licences, distribution agreements and shareholders’ agreements.
Why did you become a Qualified Franchise Professional?
Franchise businesses have a unique set of characteristics, demands and challenges. The QFP programme offered a comprehensive insight, allowing me to better understand my clients’ businesses. I was most keen to learn best practices when it came to understanding franchisee performance, monitoring franchisee performance and motivating franchisees, as these elements often inform my advice to clients, particularly those starting to franchise or dealing with disrupted franchise networks. Becoming a QFP therefore means my clients can trust that I understand and appreciate the “bigger picture” when advising them.
Why specialise in the franchising industry?
The franchising industry is unique. As a lawyer, it affords me the opportunity to specialise in an industry and be part of a community of professionals. At the same time, given the diversity of franchise businesses, there is always a variety of work and my clients’ businesses are often unique and interesting!
What services do you provide for people in the franchise industry?
For franchisors, I help guide them with launching their franchise. This mainly means ensuring their franchise agreement reflects their unique business and operational model. I also provide ongoing advice to franchisors, which can range from changing operations and expanding internationally, to managing potential disputes.
For franchisees, a core service is reviewing and advising on franchise agreements. I also often act for franchisees buying and selling their existing franchise businesses. In addition to the above, I provide broader advice and assistance as outlined above. More recently, advice has been focused on the GDPR!
What affords you most satisfaction about your work?
Both franchisors and franchisees share, in their own way, an entrepreneurial spirit. As I work with many SMEs, I am often working directly with the decision-makers; the people who are the driving force of the business. It may sound corny but I get satisfaction in helping my clients achieve their objectives. Saying that, there is also satisfaction in helping them avoid obstacles that would take them further away from where they want to be!
What aspect of your work offers the greatest challenges?
Perhaps the greatest challenge is working with clients embroiled in disputes that end up in litigation. Most of my clients go into business with great expectations and good intentions so it challenging when despite best efforts, the only remaining recourse is a tough and expensive legal battle.
How do you think other people would describe you?
Conscientious. Genuine. Reliable. Someone who goes above and beyond.
What’s the next step in your career?
My next step is to continue to build on my experience and expertise and work towards becoming a trusted name in the franchise industry.
If you had to start over, what would you do differently?
I would not do anything differently. Every step I have taken so far has made me who I am – both personally and professionally. I value that. Also, it is impossible to know who or where I would be if I had done anything differently.
How do you relax?
Mainly by going to the gym and meditating. I also look for any excuse to travel!
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