Mulcahy LLP

Mulcahy LLP

Mulcahy LLP is a boutique litigation firm that provides legal services to franchisors, manufacturers, distributors, and other companies in the areas of antitrust and trade regulation, intellectual property.

Firm Overview

Our years of hands-on experience as former General Counsels and seasoned litigators provide us with the expertise to achieve our clients' business goals. Based in Southern California, we serve clients nationwide.

Mindful of the costs and burdens of litigation, the firm always assists clients in resolving disputes short of trial, whenever possible. We recognize that most cases should and do settle before they go to trial.

Click here to see a representative sample of lawsuits handled by Mulcahy LLP.

For many of our clients, arbitration, mediation, or another method of alternative dispute resolution is the most efficient way to resolve, or, if necessary, litigate through conclusion complex disputes. We know that success in arbitration requires substantial experience and sophistication in the arbitration forum. We have successfully handled dozens of arbitrations, and we have litigated in court both to compel the enforcement of arbitration provisions and to enforce arbitration awards.

Click here to see a representative sample of arbitrations handled by Mulcahy LLP

We also have been very successful resolving cases via mediation, which, if the opposing party is convinced that we are willing to see the matter through the completion of a trial or arbitration, can be a very efficient method of resolving disputes.

Main Office

Main Office
4 Park Plaza, Ste. 1230
Irvine, CA 92614




Our counseling services include advising clients on all aspects of vertical distribution including distribution arrangements, trademark, copyright and trade secret laws and other issues specific to franchise.

For franchisors, very few documents are as important as their franchise agreement and disclosure document. Our lawyers have the expertise to ensure that your documentation is state-of-the-art and fits your interests as franchisor to satisfy regulators, sell new franchises, and exercise optimal control over your franchise system. Because of our experience as General Counsels to major corporations, our lawyers have the knowledge and experience to ensure your documentation is state-of-the-art and fits your company's business interests.

Mulcahy LLP attorneys are well versed on advising clients with respect to: registration and disclosure compliance under state laws and Federal Trade Commission disclosure rules; franchise and dealership terminations, non-renewals and transfers; the enforcement of franchise quality standards, reporting obligations, restrictive covenants and trade secrets; and the impact of developments in technology and communication on their franchise and distribution relationships, including electronic commerce issues

Our experience in counseling franchisors on dealing with franchise associations, with marketing funds and rolling out new programs to franchise systems, as well as in acquiring and divesting groups of units and even entire franchise systems

Representative Matters

Registration and Disclosure Responsible for disclosure, registration and annual renewals for several different systems covering more than two decades, all without incident or any claims of non-compliance.

Impact Issues -- Negotiated and authored key development policies and procedures to encourage new development of franchised and company stores while minimizing conflicts with existing franchisees, including highly successful dispute resolution procedure to deal with those site approvals that did result in claims.

System Policies -- Authored and revised franchise system policies on all manner of issues, including marketing funds, successor/renewal of franchises, franchise ownership, intra-family transfer, product offerings, development, and dispute resolution.

Acquisition of Significant, Direct Competitor -- Represented franchisor in successful acquisition of 200-unit competitor in California composed of half company and half franchised units. The result was that almost every one of the competitors stores were converted to the acquirer's concept, and there were no claims or lawsuits filed against the acquiring franchisor.

Frequent Acquisitions -- Handled dozens of acquisitions of franchised businesses (some asset, some stock) ranging from a handful to dozens of units for several different franchisors, many through exercise of a right of first refusal and subsequent negotiations.

Major Acquisition -- Performed critical legal work for acquisition of 100+ chain of quick service restaurants for conversion to client's franchised concept in crowded metro market, driving client's market share from sixth to second in less than a year.

James M. Mulcahy

Mulcahy LLP

Mr. Mulcahy, named a "Super Lawyer" by Super Lawyers magazine (through a peer-selection process), represents clients in a wide variety of counseling and litigation settings.


-Nationally recognized authority on franchise and distribution law and antitrust and trade regulation litigation
-Former General Counsel of American Suzuki Motor Corporation
-Certified Specialist in Franchise and Distribution Law for the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization
-AV Preeminent Rated (5 out of 5), Martindale-Hubbell Lawyer Directory
-Superb Rated (10 out of 10), by Avvo, Inc. legal directory

With more than 30 years of experience, Jim Mulcahy, founder and managing partner of Mulcahy LLP, is one of the leading authorities in California on franchise and distribution law. Jim is widely recognized for his ability to assist corporations in structuring solid franchise and distribution business solutions and in identifying potential conflicts before they arise. His experience includes litigating, trying, and arbitrating hundreds of matters involving disputes between franchisors/suppliers and franchisees/dealers, franchise disclosure and relationship statutes, antitrust and trade regulation, unfair competition issues, dealer and distribution programs, vertical marketing issues, claims of trademark and copyright infringement, allegations of tortious business conduct, and a myriad of contractual and other business disputes.

Jim has taken over 60 cases to trial, and he brings the seasoned perspective of a former general counsel, having served in that capacity for American Suzuki Motor Corporation for over four years. He began his legal career at Chicago-based Wildman Harrold, Allen & Dixon, where he was a partner for nine years before joining American Suzuki. Jim has served as a faculty member at the National Institute for Trial Advocacy and for the College of Trial Advocacy.

Kevin A. Adams

Mulcahy LLP

An attorney with Mulcahy LLP since 2008, Kevin Adams handles a variety of franchise, intellectual property, unfair competition and vertical distribution matters. He has tried to conclusion many cases before judges, juries and arbitrators.

Prior to joining Mulcahy LLP, Mr. Adams practiced at a mid-sized civil litigation boutique in San Diego, CA. While there, he litigated numerous cases managing all aspects of pre-trial work including discovery, depositions, motions and trial preparation. Also, Mr. Adams handled numerous mediations, arbitrations and appellate court briefs.
While in law school, Mr. Adams worked as a Certified Law Student in the Business and Community Development Clinic managing a variety of franchise litigation, entity formation, and employment law matters.
Mr. Adams, who holds a B.A. in political science from the University of California, San Diego, graduated from the University of Pacific, McGeorge School of law as a member of the Dean's List Honor Roll. While in school, Mr. Adams held the position of Officer for the Governmental Affairs Student Association (GASA). Prior to graduation, Mr. Adams was selected and served as a law clerk for the United States Attorney's Office in Sacramento, CA. During the Summer of 2003, Mr. Adams studied under Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy at the Salzburg Institute, in Salzburg, Austria.

Prior to the commencement of his legal career, Mr. Adams worked as a staff member in both houses of the California Legislature.


University of Pacific, McGeorge School of Law
Juris Doctorate, 2005

Steven Emmons, Of Counsel

Mulcahy LLP

As a former general counsel of Taco Bell, Steve is able to think like a franchisor always keeping the client's business goals in mind. His practice focuses on franchise disclosure, registration, and transactional work also serving as outside general counsel to small and mid-sized franchisors.


-Former General Counsel for Taco Bell Corporation, over 20 years with PepsiCo/Yum Brands, Inc.
-UCLA School of Law, J.D. 1978, admitted to California bar 1978; UC/Riverside B.A.
-Three years as member of California State Bar's Franchise Law Committee.

With more than 20-years of experience in-house at some of the biggest names in quick-service and full-service restaurants, including three years working and living in Europe, Steve Emmons has a storehouse of real world, hands-on experience in all aspects of franchising from document drafting, disclosure and registration, system expansion and impact issues, franchise relations, marketing fund administration, franchise terminations, litigation, and dispute resolution. He has personally handled dozens and dozens of franchise business divestitures and acquisitions (both stock and asset), including very successful acquisition and conversion of competing franchised restaurant chains with hundreds of company and franchise-operated units.

Steve has extensive experience in each of the key law components of multi-unit retailing in general, in particular: litigation management, advertising review, trademark and trade secret protection, wage and hour, discrimination, ADA, real estate development, purchasing and distribution. With a keen interest in and appreciation for business, Steve brings an efficiency-and-solutions mindset in addressing projects for his clients, whether they be setting strategies for growth, negotiating complex business arrangements, or resolving disputes.

Professional Highlights:

Steve has participated as speaker or panelist for legal education programs hosted by professional organizations such as the International Franchise Association, the California State Bar Association, the Orange County Bar Association, Loyola Law School, and the California Minority Counsel Program, covering various topics including franchise relations, franchise financing, and promoting diversity within the legal profession.
Steve has also taught Franchise Law as an adjunct professor at Chapman Law School.