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Steve Goldman has extensive experience representing brand and hotel-owner clients in all aspects of the life cycle of hotel contracts and brand and franchise systems, including launching and modifying new brands and systems in the U.S. and overseas; negotiating franchise and management agreements; developing and implementing quality assurance, e-commerce and revenue and management systems; and franchised and managed hotel transfers, workouts, receiverships and terminations. 

Steve’s in-depth knowledge of the hospitality industry was honed serving as Senior Litigation Counsel for Holiday Inns International, General Counsel of the Sheraton Franchise Division, and as a Corporate Officer and head of the Brand Transactions and Franchising Group and the Intellectual Property Group at Marriott International. 

Having served as the secretary to and liaison with the Marriott Franchise Association as well as having established a trade association to address federal relationship legislation and disintermediation of travel brands by internet search engines, Steve understands the perspectives of both franchisors and franchisees, enabling him to develop solutions and create consensus among industry providers.

Representative Engagements

  • Reviewed and negotiated hotel, restaurant and golf course franchise agreements and management agreements on behalf of large hotel chains and owners of units in other major chains;
  • Negotiated regional development agreements on behalf of hotel chains;
  • Provided strategic advice and direction and drafted documents for large hotel chain system initiatives and launch of new concepts;
  • Developed restaurant programs for celebrity chefs;
  • Led successful litigation strategy to stop attempted competitor acquisition of Marriott’s largest franchisee and conversion of the franchisee's hotels to non-Marriott brands;
  • Developed strategy to address “keyword” sales and domain name practices by ISPs, OTAs, and search engines, that ultimately led to industry-wide responses;
  • Lead lawyer in (i) international launch of Residence Inn, Ritz-Carlton Residences, and Fairfield Inn brands, and (ii) domestic and international launch of Autograph Hotels, SpringHill Suites, TownePlace Suites, and Renaissance ClubSport co-branding concept and ExecuStay “market” franchise program;
  • Developed and/or taught compliance programs to address changing legal landscape for franchise and management agreements, Sarbanes Oxley, OFAC, online brand protection and domain name strategy  and brand search strategies for “keyword” sales and OTAs activities, and developed a general corporate governance best practices seminar presented by the Enron Examiner and his team;
  • Developed solutions to antitrust and other legal impediments to franchisee participation in franchisor revenue management and price guaranty programs;
  • Developed and implemented (i) new quality assurance programs based on customer satisfaction and inspections, and (ii) "impact" processes that allowed companies to meet growth objectives and hear owner concerns; and
  • Numerous first-chair domestic and international development transactions (often with key money or financing) and settlement of disputes, foreclosures, receiverships, and bankruptcies of franchised hotels.

Steve’s legal career also encompasses practicing as a corporate and bankruptcy lawyer in private practice.  In addition, following law school, Steve clerked for Judge Will Garwood, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and for Judge Hugh Gibson, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas.

Professional Activities

  • Adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown Law Center, 2014-Present
  • Advisory Committee, North American Securities Administrators Association, Franchise and Business
    Opportunities Project Group, 2007-2014 (NASAA is the advisory group for state franchise regulators)
  • Chairman, American Bar Association Forum on Franchising, 2003-2005
    • Program Co-Chair, 2002
    • Publications Officer, 1999-2002
    • Director, Corporate Counsel Division, 1995-1998
  • Chairman, Legal/Legislative Committee, International Franchise Association, 2007-2008
  • Board of Directors, Primrose Schools (early learning centers), a wholly-owned subsidiary of private equity firm American Capital, 2007 through sale in 2008

News & Insights

Speaking Engagements

  • "Professionalism Issues Related to Attorney-Client Privilege for In-House and Outside Counsel," Georgia Bar Association, ICLE Franchise Basics Program
    Speaking Engagement
    Atlanta, GA, 2015
  • "Managing the Franchise Relationship through Franchisee Receivership and Bankruptcy," ABA Forum on Franchising
    Speaking Engagement
    Los Angeles, CA, 2012
  • "Using Letters of Intent, Term Sheets and Other Interim Deal Documents," Annual Joint International Bar Association and International Franchise Association
    Speaking Engagement
    Washington, D.C., 2010
  • "Antitrust Basics," ABA Forum on Franchising
    Speaking Engagement
    New Orleans, Louisiana, 2010
  • "Fundamentals of Franchising," Georgia Bar Association and American Bar Association Annual Meeting
    Speaking Engagement
    Atlanta, Georgia, 2006
  • "Receivership and Bankruptcy," 32nd ABA Forum on Franchising
    Speaking Engagement
    Los Angeles, CA, 2005
  • "Going Global with Your Client," ABA Section of International Law Spring Meeting
    Speaking Engagement
    Washington, D.C., 2005
  • "Competition Round Up from Around the World," Moderator, 27th Annual ABA Forum on Franchising
    Speaking Engagement
    Vancouver, British Columbia, October 2004
  • "Structuring the Franchise Relationship," 26th Annual ABA Forum on Franchising
    Speaking Engagement
    Hollywood, FL, October 2003
  • "The International Franchising Tool Kit," Annual Joint International Bar Association and International Franchise Association Conference
    Speaking Engagement
    Washington, D.C., 2003
  • "Professional and Ethics Issues: The Attorney-Client Privilege," 23rd Annual ABA Forum on Franchising
    Speaking Engagement
    New Orleans, Louisiana, October 2000
  • "Hotels in Receivership," International Bar Association Annual Meeting
    Speaking Engagement
    Barcelona, Spain, September 1999
  • "Drafting Franchise Agreements so that Duties are Defined by the Parties Rather than Courts or Arbitrators," 21st ABA Forum on Franchising
    Speaking Engagement
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, October 1998
  • "Outsourcing Issues," 18th Annual ABA Forum on Franchising, Corporate Counsel Division Program
    Speaking Engagement
    Orlando, Florida, October 1995
  • "Underwriting and Loan Administration Considerations for Franchised Businesses," Mortgage Bankers Association, Advanced Real Estate Finance Course, University of Wisconsin
    Speaking Engagement
    Madison, WI, July 1995


  • District of Columbia, 2000
  • Georgia, 1986


University of Georgia School of Law, J.D., with Honors, 1985

  • Articles Editor, Georgia Law Review
  • Author: Note, The Georgia Domestic Relations Long Arm Statute: An Appraisal, 18 Ga. L. Rev. 691 (1984)

University of Vermont, B.A., with Honors, Phi Beta Kappa, 1982

Major in History

Honors | Recognitions

  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Peer Review Rated
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