Representation of Minority- and Women-owned Business Enterprises

An experienced administrative lawyer and a litigator, Franklin helps businesses navigate all the intricacies of minority and disadvantaged business policies.  He assists his clients in:

  • Obtaining Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Women Business Enterprise (WBE), and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) certifications from state and local governments;
  • Obtaining 8(a) program certification from the Small Business Administration;
  • Bid protests;
  • Economic inclusion strategies to enhance private sector development project outcomes;
  • MBE/WBE policy enforcement; and
  • Civil rights class actions and other complex commercial litigation.

Representation of Corporations

He advises large corporations on compliance with various socio-economic policies, regulations and strategies including:

  • Equal business opportunity programs;
  • Commercial non-discrimination policies;
  • Subcontracting goals;
  • Establishing supplier diversity strategies and policies to enhance M/WBE mainstream participation in emerging markets such as medical cannabis and community solar power;
  • Teaming and joint venture collaborations with small and disadvantaged businesses; and
  • MBE/WBE/DBE/HUB/SBE/SLBE contract requirements.

He also facilitates joint ventures and partnerships among Fortune 500 corporations and smaller contractors and vendors to increase capacity and enhance market access among historically disadvantaged businesses.  He also conducts diversity business audits and helps large companies open up their procurement processes to new sources of supply and to promote non-discriminatory treatment of suppliers and vendors.

Representation of Governments

Franklin’s representation of dozens of government clients has brought him national recognition.  Among his many governmental clients are the Cities of Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Charlotte, NC; Greensboro, NC; Palm Beach County, FL; Richland County, SC; San Antonio, TX; San Diego, CA; and Columbia, SC.  His academic/non-profit clients include the North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development, the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the School Board of Broward County, the Palm Beach County School Board, and the University of Minnesota.  He has also advised the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Transportation regarding proposed regulatory reforms of federal economic inclusion programs.

He has advised governmental entities on:

  • Minority Women Business Enterprise (“M/WBE”) programs;
  • Small Business Enterprise (“SBE”), Small Local Business Enterprise (“SLBE”), and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (“DBE”) programs;
  • Linked deposit policies for financial institutions;
  • ACDBE airport concessions programs;
  • Capacity building initiatives;
  • Centralized bidder registration systems;
  • Formation and oversight of multi-jurisdictional disparity study consortiums;
  • Disparity study oversight and review, and procedures for economic inclusion policy deliberation;
  • Working capital lending programs;
  • Bonding assistance programs;
  • Supplier development programs; and
  • Various public private partnership initiatives that serve "economic inclusion" and economic development objectives.

Franklin has assisted numerous governments in reforming their procurement practices and policies to make them more accessible.  Several of these reforms have involved the deployment of technologies that automate the government vendor registration and contracting processes.  He has provided detailed guidance to government clients regarding such procedures including the Metropolitan District Commission in Hartford, CT, San Diego, CA, Columbia, SC, and San Antonio, TX.

Appellate Representation

He has been involved in some of the most consequential appellate decisions concerning MBE/WBE policies around the country.  His federal appellate court experience includes:

  • Supervising and drafting of appellate briefs as amicus curiae and as an intervening party in numerous constitutional challenges to federal, state, and local minority business programs (Carpenter v. Dole, Tennessee Asphalt v. Farris, Associated General Contractors v. San Francisco, Concrete Works v. City and County of Denver, and S.J. Groves v. Fulton County.); and
  • Preparing briefs and pleadings in U.S. Supreme Court cases involving the constitutionality of minority business programs (J.A. Croson v. City of Richmond, Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, and Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Mineta; these cases addressed complex legal and factual issues under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment).
Attorney Profile
  • University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law (J.D., 1980) Moot Court Board, Asper Fellowship with NAACP
  • University of Chicago (B.A., 1977) National Achievement Scholar
Bar Admissions
  • State of Maryland
Court Admissions
  • U.S. District Court, District of Maryland
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
  • American Bar Association
  • American Contract Compliance Association, seminar faculty
  • Speaker, "Strict Scrutiny & Narrow Tailoring," COMPASS Institute Conference, September 2022
  • Speaker, "Best Practices in Bid Solicitation and Contract Language for MBE Contract Compliance," ACCA Training Institute, August 2022
  • American Contract Compliance Association's Parren J. Mitchell Crusader Award, 2021
  • Airport Minority Advisory Council
  • Florida Association of Minority Business Enterprise Officials
  • Black Professional Men, Inc.
  • University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law Alumni Association
  • American DBE Magazine, author, "Survival Strategies for DBEs in the Age of the COVID-19 Pandemic: When Health Disparities Become Wealth Disparities," August 2020
  • Meritas, Law Firms Worldwide, panelist, "Legal Cannabis and the Health Care Industry," November 2019
  • "Making Money While the Sun Shines: Rebuilding Urban America Through Economic Inclusion," Baltimore's Mayoral Advisory Council on Minority and Women Business Enterprises Report, September 2015
  • American DBE Magazine, author, "New Blessings, Old Curses: DBE Final Rule," Winter 2015
  • The Telegraph, quoting Franklin Lee, "Attorney Says It's Important that Minority Businesses Get a Boost," regarding Macon-Bibb's outreach to women- and minority-owned businesses for opportunities at government contracts, January 2015
  • Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland's Economic Development Workshop, lead presenter, "Taking it to the Next Level/Policy Tools to Close the Gaps and Build Legacy Wealth," November 2010
  • FAMBEO, presenter, Legal Update for MBE Law and Transformation Through Innovation
  • Author, 'Columbia to Give Preference to Local Businesses," September 2010
  • Greater Baltimore Committee, The Leadership Program, Class of 2009
  • Just the Beginning Foundation, Executive Planning Committee, co-chair "Robes in Schools" programs in Maryland, and coordinator of Mock Trial program in D.C., 2008
  • Greater Baltimore Committee, "Bridging the Gap" Advisory Panel, 2007
  • Black Enterprise Magazine interviews and quotes in "Washington Report: Business Advocates Applaud Maryland Law," regarding the enacted commercial non-discrimination statute in Maryland (of which Franklin was a primary author), September 2006
  • Baltimore Business Journal interviews Franklin Lee in reporting on MBE participation in Maryland road projects in its "State Lacks Minority Businesses to Compete for Road Work," July 2006
  • The Daily Record turns to Franklin Lee for insight in a report on a commercial non-discrimination measure passed by Baltimore City Council to target discrimination in contracting it its "Keeping the Devil Out of the Details," February 2006
  • National Association of College and University Attorneys, lecturer on discrimination law, Tempe, Arizona, March 2005
  • Stateline.org quotes Franklin Lee in "States Look Beyond Quotas to Promote Minority Firms," January 2005
  • Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council, pro bono General Counsel, 2022
  • Project PLASE, Board Member
  • Airport Minority Advisory Council, "Capitol Hill Day", Speaker, March 2024
  • Durham County Business, Black History Month Event, Speaker, February 2024
  • Podcast Speaker, “The Assault on Affirmative Action – A Tale of Historical Schizophrenia”, American Contract Compliance Association Northeast Region, February 2024
Honors & Awards