James A. Goniea


James A. Goniea joined the firm on January 1, 2016 and typically divides his time between the firm’s New York and Philadelphia offices.  Mr. Goniea has over twenty-four years’ experience litigating on behalf of, and providing counsel to, many of the most prominent names in franchising.  Mr. Goniea regularly represents franchise clients in courts across the country and internationally on a wide variety of issues including, but not limited to, territorial disputes, non-competition covenants, trademark disputes, system compliance, wrongful termination and enforcement of arbitration and venue provisions.  In addition to franchising matters, Mr. Goniea’s practice includes representing companies and individuals in a wide variety of commercial disputes and corporate matters including, among others, insurance matters, labor and employment issues, mergers and acquisitions and corporate restructuring.

Mr. Goniea was named Philadelphia Franchise Law "2014-2015 Lawyer of the Year" by Best Lawyers in America. Mr. Goniea is nationally ranked in the Franchise category of Chambers USA 2016 which describes him as "smart and professional" and "skilled in the courtroom setting, a good speaker and writer, and analytical."  In addition, Mr. Goniea has been recognized as a Franchise Law "Legal Eagle" numerous times by Franchise Times Magazine and has also been recognized by Who’s Who Legal:  Franchise 2016 as being “among the world’s leading Franchise lawyers."

Mr. Goniea presently serves as the Publications Officer of the Governing Committee of the ABA Forum on Franchising.  He has written papers and presented programs on a wide variety of franchise law issues for numerous seminars and symposia including both the ABA Forum on Franchising and the International Franchise Association Legal Symposium.  Mr. Goniea is the co-author of the Annual Franchise and Distribution Law Developments 2012 and the Chapter on "Termination, Nonrenewal and Transfer" in The Franchise Law Compliance Manual, 2nd Edition, both published by the ABA.  He also has had articles concerning franchise law and practice published in Franchising World Magazine and The Franchise Lawyer.

From 2000 to 2006, Mr. Goniea served as the Vice President and General Counsel of American Driveline Systems, Inc., the company that owns the AAMCO Transmissions and Cottman Transmissions brands.   

After graduating from law school, Mr. Goniea clerked for Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. when he was a judge on the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.  In 1986, between college and law school, Mr. Goniea lived in Wuhan, China for a year teaching English as a Princeton in Asia Fellow.

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  • Bar Admissions

    New York



    Southern District of New York

    Eastern District of New York

    Northern District of California

    Southern District of California

    Central District of California

    Eastern District of California

    Eastern District of Michigan

    Eastern District of Pennsylvania

    Northern District of Indiana

    Third Circuit Court of Appeals

  • Education

    Rutgers School of Law-Newark, with high honors - 1990 

    New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, with honors - 1985 


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