Carl E. Zwisler

Carl Zwisler focuses his practice on advising franchisors, manufacturers, and investors in structuring, negotiating, and enforcing domestic and international franchise, licensing, distribution, and acquisition agreements. He has assisted executives and general counsel in more than 85 industries or industry segments with creative solutions for developing and implementing business expansion strategies. With more than 35 years' experience, Carl has worked with clients in every phase of domestic and international franchising, licensing, and distribution programs, frequently advising companies entering the U.S. market and U.S. companies expanding abroad.

Carl also represents specialty pharmacies and other health care providers on issues relating to health care plan provider agreements.

Representative Experience

  • Representation of companies expanding through master franchising, area development franchising, international franchising, management contracts, joint venture agreements, licensing agreements and product distribution arrangements throughout the world
  • Representation of foreign companies entering U.S. markets as franchisors
  • Representation of companies in the acquisition and merger of franchising companies
  • Advising start up and mature franchisors in structuring and refinancing franchise programs
  • Negotiation of international agreements for franchisors, master franchises, area developers, manufacturers, and distributors
  • Advice regarding avoidance of franchisor joint employer/vicarious liability claims
  • Advice regarding SBA franchise lending criteria
  • Representation of health care providers confronting termination of provider agreements

Court Memberships

  • District of Columbia


  • The Best Lawyers in America©
  • The International Who’s Who of Franchise Lawyers
  • Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders: Franchise
  • Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, Franchise
  • Chambers Global, Franchising, Notable Practitioner, 2011–present
  • Legal Eagles Hall of Fame, Franchise Times
  • “Legal Eagle,” Franchise Times
  • “Washington, DC Super Lawyer,” Super Lawyers
  • International Franchise Association Distinguished Service Award
  • "20 of the Keenest Legal Minds in Global Franchising," Global Franchise Magazine


Professional Affiliations

  • Member, Maryland Attorney General’s Franchise Advisory Committee, 2013–present
  • IFA-Chair, SBA Franchise Registry Task Force 2012–present
  • Member, IFA International Long Range Planning Task Force, 2013
  • International Distribution Institute, U.S. Franchise Law Expert, 2008–present
  • IFA Board of Directors, 1990
  • IFA International Committee, 2000–present
  • IFA Supplier Forum Advisory Board, Chair, 1990; Founding Member, 1985–present
  • IFA Legal/Legislative Committee, Member, 1975–present
  • International Franchise Expo Master Franchising Symposium, Chair, 1992–2010
  • IFA, Marketing and Public Relations Committee, Member, 1993–2009
  • American Bar Association, Forum on Franchising, Founding Member of International Franchising and Distribution Division, 2005–2007
  • IFA, chief staff counsel/general counsel, 1975–1983

Community Involvement

  • Saint Andrews Episcopal School, Parent Diversity Committee, 2006–2008
  • Barker Foundation, Board of Trustees, 1999–2003
  • American Adoption Agency, Board of Directors, 1996–1999



Press releases

Legal alerts

Photo of Carl E. Zwisler
  • Washington, D.C.

    600 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
    The Watergate - Suite 700
    Washington, DC 20037
F: 202.295.2275


Kimberly Bradshaw


DePaul University College of Law, J.D.

University of Notre Dame, A.B.