In honor and remembrance for our partner, mentor, and friend W. Gerald Thornton please see his In Memoriam https://www.manningfulton.com/news/in-memoriam-w-gerald-thornton/
For over 24 years, Ritchie has counseled business clients throughout each organization’s life cycle from formation to successful exit. He serves as general counsel to numerous emerging and middle market businesses across all industries with a particular concentration in representing clients in the franchising, retail, hospitality, home services, and education sectors. As the leader of the largest franchise law practice in the Carolinas and one of the top franchise firms nationally, Ritchie represents franchisor clients as their strategic advisor through all phases of growing and protecting their brand. He represents scores of franchisees—including some of the largest multi-unit franchisees in the country—in growing and protecting their investments.
Ritchie knows too many lawyers like to overcomplicate matters. Clients hire Ritchie and his team to provide answers and creative solutions allowing business executives to stay focused on growing their businesses. Ritchie’s clients appreciate his results-oriented approach to the practice of law where he helps clients navigate the legal requirements to achieve their objectives.
He helps direct each client’s legal strategy to accomplish the client’s short and long-term business objectives. Ritchie’s business practice includes routinely advising management teams and boards of directors on sensitive corporate law matters as well as transaction structure and negotiations.
He guides clients through mission-critical transactions including equity and debt transactions as well as mergers and acquisitions. Ritchie and his team have conducted merger, acquisition, and joint venture transactions in almost all 50 states and internationally, with aggregate transaction value exceeding $3.5 billion.
In addition to his substantial experience in corporate and commercial transactions, Ritchie founded and leads the firm’s franchise practice where he serves as the primary franchise counsel to over 100 established and emerging franchise systems and dealer networks. He has decades of experience helping domestic and international franchisors design and grow their franchise systems with innovative, but compliant, franchise disclosure documents, franchise agreements, area development agreements, and master franchise agreements. Ritchie’s clients benefit from his wealth of experience representing both sector leading franchisors as well as innovating emerging concepts.
Ritchie is a recognized thought leader in franchising across the Carolinas and nationally. He supports franchising through his active involvement in the International Franchise Association (“IFA”) as a long-time member of the IFA Membership and Legal/Legislative Committees. One of the first attorneys to receive the Certified Franchise Executive (“CFE”) designation awarded by the Institute of Certified Franchise Executives (“ICFE”), Ritchie is a frequent presenter at IFA and other franchising events. For 6 years, Ritchie served on the IFA Supplier Forum’s Board of Directors and on ICFE’s Board of Governors, which develops the CFE curriculum as the premier training program for franchise executives.
Ritchie is also an active leader in the North Carolina business law community. He is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association Business Law Section Council where he recently completed serving two terms as the Chair of the Business Law Section. Under his leadership, he directed the section through COVID, launched a hybrid continuing education program model, and lead the section’s government relations activities resulting in revisions to the North Carolina Business Corporations Act and Business Opportunity Act. Ritchie authored the revisions to the Business Opportunity Act, which are the first changes in 40 years to this statute regulating franchising. Previously, he served as the Council’s Vice Chair, Continuing Legal Education Committee Chair, and is the founding chair of the North Carolina Bar Association Committee on Franchising, which committee he has chaired for most of the last 15 years. For 15 years, Ritchie has been the course planner and taught continuing education programs on franchise law for other North Carolina attorneys. For over a decade, Ritchie and his team have been recognized by publications such as The Best Lawyers in America©, North Carolina Legal Elite, Franchise Times Legal Eagles, Whose Who in Franchise Law, and Entrepreneur magazine for their excellence in franchise and corporate law.
For over a decade, Ritchie has served on the firm’s management committee and currently serves as the firm’s Vice President.
Admitted to Practice
Professional Memberships & Activities
Prior Experience and Clerkships
Mergers and Acquisitions
Product Distribution and Licensing Law
Occoneechee Council Boy Scouts of America
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
“As our lead outside franchise and corporate counsel, we rely on Ritchie’s pragmatic, strategic counsel in growing and protecting our franchise system. His timely, relevant counsel helps us continue to grow Window World. We have complete confidence in him and know that he has our best interest at heart.”Beth H. Vannoy
Chief Legal Officer & Director | Window World, Inc.
“Ritchie Taylor is the most level headed, knowledgeable, patient, and insightful franchise lawyer in the business! As a franchise owner, if you are in need of any type of legal or business counsel, I can’t recommend Ritchie strongly enough!”Bob Frame
First Watch Franchisee
“Ritchie, Ashley and the team at Manning Fulton have been instrumental in keeping AR Workshop focused on what we do best by servicing us with what they do best. They take all of the legal work off our hands and arm us with knowledge and tools to succeed in the franchising world. Growing from 0 to 130 franchised locations in under 3 years wouldn’t have been possible without their efficiency, education and experience in the ever changing franchising world. Highly recommend this amazing team.”Maureen Anders
Founder & CEO | AR Workshop
“Ritchie’s effort and sincerity impress me. Ritchie has become my strategic partner and is genuinely focused on ensuring that my brand is moving in the right direction.”Sam Ballas
Chief Executive Officer | East Coast Wings Corporation
“Manning Fulton’s franchise team are innovative practitioners of franchise law. They understand how franchise legal compliance should help facilitate franchise development, not hamper it. Brands who work with Manning Fulton know their lawyers are focused both on protecting the brand while helping them develop units.”Neil Newcomb
Chief Executive Officer, Brixx Franchise Systems LLC