Helen Fotinos is a partner in our Business Law Group in Toronto and the Co-Lead of the Franchise & Distribution Group within the firm’s National Retail and Consumer Markets Group. Her practice focuses on all aspects of franchise/distribution law and related corporate/commercial contracts and disputes.
Helen has served as General Counsel to domestic and international franchisors, manufacturers and distributors in the quick-service/casual dining, food and beverage, hospitality and automotive industries. She has extensive experience advising clients on the development of the legal and corporate infrastructure required to successfully manage both the day-to-day operations as well as the strategic long-term growth of their businesses.
Helen is particularly adept at proactively identifying areas of risk and opportunity and working closely with clients to deliver integrated risk management strategies and practical business solutions that advance the client’s business objectives. Through this approach, she has advised clients on wide variety of issues, including: franchise disclosure obligations, unit and master franchise agreements, system changes, default enforcement, franchisee terminations, renewals and transfers, the registration, licensing and defence of intellectual property rights, the standardization of key operating documents, the implementation and enforcement of financial reporting, training and performance improvement programs, complex finance, marketing, sponsorship, vendor, distribution and employment agreements, regulatory compliance and consumer grievance and litigation management, among other issues.
Prior to moving in-house, Helen was in private practice at a boutique law firm specializing in all aspects of franchise and business law. During this period, she advised clients on a variety of transactions and complex contractual disputes, with an emphasis on franchise, licensing and distribution contracts and related matters involving fiduciary and good faith duties, misrepresentations, economic torts, terminations, enforcement of post-termination obligations, rescission issues, intellectual property infringements, volume rebates, royalty collections and class actions.
Helen has recently written and spoken on the impact of Canada’s proposed Anti-Spam legislation on businesses and the challenges of assessing and managing the costs of franchise disputes. She has also participated in the negotiation of Memorandums of Understanding and voluntary partnerships between regulators and automotive industry stakeholders on a broad array of issues including: the protection of proprietary information, consumer advertising practices, environmental and safety regulations and alternative dispute resolution models.
Helen is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Corporate Counsel - Ontario Chapter, and an active member of the Ontario Bar Association's Franchise Section, the Canadian Franchise Association, Global Leaders In Law and the Hellenic Canadian Lawyers Association.
Helen received her BA (With Distinction) in Political Science from York University in 1998 and graduated with her LLB from the University of Windsor in 2000. She received team and individual awards for Best Advocate and Best Respondent's Factum in multiple competitive mooting competitions at the University of Windsor.