In the past few decades, the business of selling trucks, automobiles and their components has grown increasingly more competitive . . . and complex. Many small businesses have now transformed into sophisticated ownership structures. Family-owned businesses are now managed by second and third generations. Other dealerships are owned by private investors or have issued publicly traded stock. Consolidation is prevalent, and the number of large dealership groups that must maintain relationships with multiple manufacturers is increasing dramatically. Manufacturers are responding to these trends by imposing new performance standards, demanding contractual amendments and altering their sales and distribution strategies in ways that can affect dealers' businesses. Rising costs, changing labor needs and increasing government regulatory demands all add up to make each year more challenging than the last.
This more-sophisticated business landscape calls for legal counsel that is both intimately familiar with the issues that dealers face, and has the ability to provide attorneys from a wide variety of disciplines to meet dealers' increasingly varied legal needs.
Members of Duane Morris' Dealer Services Group have invested years in learning the intricacies and nuances of state and federal dealership law and have represented dealer clients in all areas that affect their bottom line. Throughout Duane Morris' national network of offices, the firm has attorneys experienced in representing dealers of automobiles and trucks, as well as dealers of heavy equipment, boats, motorcycles, snowmobiles and their related service businesses.
Whether negotiating a distribution agreement for a truck dealer, facilitating an acquisition or sale of an auto dealership, advising on a dealer's employee relations, defending consumer claims against a dealer or litigating a dispute on behalf of a dealer, we assist our dealer clients in reaching their business goals.
Range of Services
Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration
Attorneys from Duane Morris' Dealer Services Group have handled some of the most significant dealership law cases in the United States over the past decade. Our lawyers have represented dealers from across the country in disputes with manufacturers regarding pricing, product allocation and contractual obligations. Duane Morris attorneys have experience in all types of complex commercial litigation, including class actions, from inception through trial and appeal. In addition to representing dealers in court, we also provide counsel on settling disputes without conventional litigation by using alternative dispute resolution options and advise on methods to anticipate and avoid litigation.
Corporate Issues and Mergers & Acquisitions
Duane Morris corporate attorneys advise businesses large and small on a wide variety of corporate matters, including negotiating dealer franchise agreements and other contracts. The firm represents clients in all aspects of mergers and acquisitions, and is equally experienced representing buyers and sellers. Duane Morris attorneys regularly work with our entrepreneurial clients in developing and implementing creative strategies to accomplish their corporate finance and acquisition objectives. Our lawyers regularly assist closely held companies with strategic planning, equity incentives and succession planning. We represent public companies on securities law compliance, ongoing reporting obligations and corporate governance issues.
Labor Law & Employment Disputes
Members of Duane Morris' Dealer Services Group have counseled hundreds of dealerships on labor and employment law compliance issues. Our attorneys have advised dealers on individual employee discipline and discharge issues, overtime and commission pay plan issues, sexual and racial harassment complaints and responses to union activity. Services range from creating and implementing employment policies to managing nationwide employment discrimination litigation efforts. Our lawyers emphasize policies to prevent employment problems through our problem prevention programs and services, including seminars and workshops, customized training programs and employment practice audits.
Our environmental lawyers offer dealers a full range of legal services, including counsel on government regulations and representation in federal and state enforcement proceedings. The firm's knowledge of dealers' businesses, including repair and maintenance operations, helps our attorneys provide on-point advice regarding dealers' rights and obligations under federal statutes, including Superfund, the Clean Air Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, as well as under similar state and local laws. Our attorneys are experienced in evaluating the environmental implications of business transactions and contractual negotiations involving dealerships.
Succession and Estate Planning
Duane Morris attorneys represent a broad range of closely held business owners with respect to their personal and professional planning. Duane Morris provides estates, trusts, asset planning and related litigation services and has significant experience in the settlement of decedent's estates, fiduciary income tax matters, administration of trusts and counseling on family matters. Throughout each relationship with our clients, we work to minimize tax exposure and implement creative strategies to preserve capital and transfer resources within the client's family and to next generations.
Business Reorganization and Financial Restructuring
The firm's lawyers who focus on Business Reorganization and Financial Restructuring work in tandem with each client to determine appropriate strategies for deriving maximum value from a troubled business entity while simultaneously remaining mindful of each client's goals. Clients draw on the firm's extensive reorganization experience gained during its involvement in many of the largest restructurings of the past three decades and the capabilities of a national team of dozens of bankruptcy lawyers in jurisdictions across the United States.
Our tax attorneys are an integral part of the firm's transactional practice and work closely with our corporate lawyers to structure and effectuate complex transactions from a tax perspective. We represent a wide range of business enterprises, advising on acquisitions and reorganizations, as well as providing federal, state and local tax counsel.