Keri A. McWilliams

Keri McWilliams is a co-leader of the Franchise & Distribution team. She represents start-ups and mid-size companies across numerous industries, including restaurants, retailers, fitness centers, health concepts, and luxury brands, in all aspects of their corporate relationships. Keri is also a member of the Health and Wellness initiative, and the Food, Beverage and Agribusiness team.

What do you focus on?


I represent franchise systems ranging from 3 units to more than 1000 units with domestic compliance as well as expansion into more than 25 countries around the world.

I work with clients to prepare and update franchise agreements and disclosure documents. I obtain and manage franchise registrations in the United States and advise clients regarding compliance with state, federal, and international franchise laws. I am well-versed in international procedures, with a particular focus in the Latin America market. I have a trusted networking of local counsel with whom I regularly collaborate.

I provide franchise counsel regarding expansion and system issues such as franchisee relationships, system evolution, joint employer liability, franchisee defaults, and international development.

What do you see on the horizon?

I see continued growth in domestic and international franchising as franchisors look for new opportunities to expand and business owners see franchising as an investment that complements their business goals.

Publications and Presentations

  • How to Expand Your Fitness Business Through Brand Management and Careful Investment,” Club Industry, October 2018 (co-author)
  • “Franchise Desk Book, 3d Edition,” Maryland Chapter, ABA Forum on Franchising, (expected publication 2018) (co-author)
  • “Joint Employer Update: Does the Department of Labor’s Move Signal a New Era?” The Franchise Lawyer, ABA Forum on Franchising (Summer 2017). 
  • “I’ll Have What She’s Having:  An Exploration of Legal and Ethical Issues When Representing Clients that Compete,” International Franchise Association Legal Symposium, May 2017 (co-author and co-presenter)
  • “Exemptions and Exclusions Under Federal and State Franchise Registration and Disclosure Laws,” North Dakota Chapter, ABA Forum on Franchising, 2017 (co-author)
  • “International Franchising 2016: Legal and Business Considerations,” LexNoir Foundation, December 2016 (co-managing editor)
  •  “Legal Update,” Future of Franchising, Georgetown Franchise Management Certificate Program (Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017) (presenter)
  • “International Franchising 2016,” LexNoir Foundation, November 2016 (co-managing editor)
  • Roundtable Facilitator: Relationship Issues in Social Media Marketing Programs, International Franchise Association Legal Symposium, May 2016
  • “Life in the Fast Lane: Electronic/Mobile Pay Programs and Data Privacy Standards,” ABA Forum on Franchising, October 2015 (co-author and co-presenter)
  • “International Franchise Sales Laws, Second Edition,” ABA Forum on Franchising, August 2015 (co-editor)
  • “Franchising in Asia 2015: Legal and Business Considerations,” LexNoir Foundation, July 2015 (co-author)
  • United States,” The Franchise Law Review, 2d edition, chapter 46, Law Business Research Ltd., January 2015 (co-author)
  • “PCI Compliance: What Franchisors Need to Know,” The Franchise Lawyer, Fall 2014
  • “Credit Card Information Security Issues in Franchising,” The Legal Intelligencer, October 31, 2014 (co-authored with Craig R. Tractenberg)
  • “Franchisors and the New Internet: Trademark Obligations and Opportunities,” Franchising World, August 2009 (co-author)

Representative Experience

  • Advised a large retail chain of over 1,200 specialty stores of children's apparel, on a variety of international matters around the world, including matters in China, South America, Eastern Europe and Asia
  • Advised an assisted well-established Taiwanese franchise brand in its U.S. expansion efforts
  • Assisted large U.S. fitness franchisor during period of rapid growth from 600 units to more than 1200 units with a wide variety of franchise matters
  • Managed registration and exemption filings for a large multinational rental-car franchisor
  • Advised regional pizza franchisor on a variety of delivery, territory, and encroachment issues

How Franchising and Licensing Can Be Avenues to Expand Your Fitness Business

Club Industry | November 01, 2018

In the second part of this two-part column, Nixon Peabody attorneys Kristin Jamberdino, Keri McWilliams, and Tarae Howell discuss potential avenues of expansion for fitness studios, including licensing and franchising. Click here to read Part Two.

How to expand your fitness business through brand management and careful investment

Club Industry | October 23, 2018

New York City Complex Commercial Disputes partner Kristin Jamberdino, Washington DC Corporate partner Keri McWilliams and Boston Complex Commercial Disputes associate Tarae Howell co-wrote a two-part contributed article advising boutique fitness entrepreneurs on best practices for expanding their brands. Click here to read Part One.

Law360 names attorneys who moved up the firm ranks in Q1

Law360 | May 07, 2018

In this roundup of promotions to partner and firm management positions, 14 attorneys from Nixon Peabody are highlighted. The 11 attorneys promoted to partner are Ellie Altshuler, Mark Beaudoin, Erik Birkeneder, Hannah Bornstein, Chris Browning, Barry Carrigan, Keri McWilliams, Matt Mullen, Steven Richard, Charles Tamuleviz and Alison Torbitt. In addition, Kenneth C. Lind was promoted to leader of the firms’ public finance practice group, Justin Thompson was promoted to office managing partner in LA, and Aaron Yowell was promoted to chief innovation officer.

Washington-area appointments and promotions for May 15

Washington Post | May 14, 2017

The following coverage notes the recent appointment of Washington DC partner Kendal Tyre and associate Keri McWilliams to co-leaders of the firm’s franchise practice team.

Movers & Shakers

The Deal | May 12, 2017

The following coverage notes the recent appointment of Washington DC partner Kendal Tyre and associate Keri McWilliams to co-leaders of the firm’s franchise practice team.


Keri A. McWilliams

Co-leader, Franchising & Distribution

Washington, DC

Phone: 202-585-8770

Fax: 855-505-9076

NP Profiles: Keri McWilliams

Keri A. McWilliams - Franchise & Distribution - Nixon Peabody LLP

Read more about Keri McWilliams as part of our monthly series
profiling members of our 2018 partner class.

Georgetown University Law Center, J.D.

Washington University, B.F.A.

District of Columbia


  • Selected by her peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2019 in the field of Franchise Law
  • Super Lawyers Magazine—Recognized in Washington D. as a “Rising Star” in the area of franchise and dealership (2014-2018)
  • American Bar Association Forum on Franchising—Received the 2015 Chair’s Award for Substantial Written Work or Presentation

Keri is a member of the American Bar Association’s Forum on Franchising and the International Franchise Association.

Keri is an associate editor of The Franchise Lawyer, an American Bar Association publication.

Keri served on the American Bar Association Forum on Franchising Nominating Committee in 2017.

Keri served as a committee member for the American Bar Association Forum on Franchising, Young Lawyers Division from September 2014–September 2015.

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