People / Deborah Coldwell
Coldwell Deb

Deborah S. Coldwell

Deborah Coldwell represents franchisors, distributors, joint ventures, limited liability companies, partnerships, and the individuals who run those companies in jury trials, bench trials and arbitrations. She has litigated across several industries – from hotels and restaurants to health clubs and tax preparation services to product and service-based franchise and distribution networks.

Deb will help bring a business solution to a dispute when possible and is skilled in representing clients in mediations and other settlement proceedings. But when litigation is inevitable, she is fully prepared to go to trial or arbitration and to fight for a company and its officers. To that end, in 2022 Deb successfully led a trial team in a franchise case in the Eastern District of Texas, recently tried a case involving the sale of a franchise company in bankruptcy court, and previously litigated a successful six week jury trial in Texas state court in a joint venture dispute. Ranked nationally in Band 1 by Chambers USA, Chambers and Partners, 2009-2023 in the franchise law category, clients have described her as an "outstanding trial lawyer,” “very poised, thoughtful and smart,” and as “an especially good advocate.”

Deb loves to organize and motivate teams to accomplish short and long term goals. She is a past chair of the 2,000-plus member American Bar Association Forum on Franchising. She also served the Forum as the editor-in-chief of the Franchise Law Journal and as its publications officer. Deb channels her love of sports by litigating sports law-related matters and serving as co-chair of Haynes and Boone’s Sports Law Practice Group. She is also a passionate member of the Food, Beverage and Restaurant Practice Group.

Prior to attending law school, Deb worked in restaurants and taught junior high and college. Deb’s unique background helps her bring a practical approach to problem solving and allows her to assist clients to find an individual workable strategy in each case she handles. As a skilled and creative trial lawyer, Deb has the experience and flexibility to provide clients with quality representation on a “one size does not fit all” basis.

Show More
Expand All
  • Executive Committee of the Center for Women in Law, The University of Texas School of Law (2023)
  • The Grant Halliburton Foundation, Board Member (2011-2018); Board Chair (2015-2018)
  • ABA Forum on Franchising, Past Chair (2015-2017), Chair (2013-2015); Governing Committee Member (2009-2013); Publications Chair (2009-2013); Leadership (2006-2009)
  • ABA Franchise Law Journal, Editor-in-Chief (2006-2009)
  • State Bar of Texas
  • American Bar Association
  • Dallas Bar Association
  • ABA Forum on Franchising
  • Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America, Woodward/White, Inc., for Franchise Law, 2007-2024; Commercial Litigation, 2022-2024
  • Selected by Best Lawyers, Woodward/White, Inc., as a "Lawyer of the Year" in Franchise Law, 2016 and 2018
  • Included in D Magazine's Hall of Fame 2022, D Magazine Partners, honoring those named to the magazine's annual "Best Lawyers of Dallas" directory for more than 15 years
  • Recognized by Chambers USA, Chambers and Partners, as a nationally recognized franchise lawyer in America, 2009-2023, Band 1 in 2018-2023
  • Selected for Law360's Hospitality Editorial Board, 2023
  • Recognized as a Standout Lawyer, Acritas Stars, 2018-2021
  • Nominated by her peers as one of the world's leading franchise practitioners in The International Who's Who of Franchise Lawyers, Law Business Research Ltd., 2004, 2006, 2007, 2011; recognized as a Thought Leader for Franchise, 2019
  • Inducted into inaugural Legal Eagles Hall of Fame, Franchise Times, 2013
  • Included as a Legal Eagle (top 100 franchise lawyers) in Franchise Times, Franchise Times Corp., 2004-2023
  • Selected by her peers in D Magazine, D Magazine Partners, as one of the "Best Women Lawyers in Dallas," 2010, and as one of the top lawyers in franchise and distribution law in Dallas, 2003-2023
  • Selected as a Texas Super Lawyer, Thomson Reuters, 2003-2021
  • Selected by Best Lawyers, Woodward/White, Inc., as "2012 Dallas Franchise Law Lawyer of the Year," 2012
  • Martindale Hubbell Law Directory with a Peer Review Rating of AV Preeminent
  • "Franchisor Market Withdrawal:  the Continuum and Conundrums," speaker, IFA legal Symposium, May 8-9, 2023.
  • “Secrets to Franchise Litigation Success – No Matter Which Side of the Dispute You Are On!,” speaker, ABA 44th Annual Forum on Franchising, October 13, 2021.
  • “The Franchise Litigation Handbook, Second Edition,” co-editor, ABA Book Publishing, August 2021.
  • “Franchise Law,” co-author, SMU Annual Texas Survey, 1998-2022.
  • "Practical Strategies to Limit Premises Liability Claims Involving COVID-19," co-author,, September 15, 2020. 
  • "Forty Years of the Franchise Law Journal," editor and author, Franchise Law Journal, Summer 2020.
  • “The Road to Purgatory or Paradise? The Devil Is In the Details,” speaker and co-author, ABA 42nd Annual Forum on Franchising, 2019.
  • “Judicial Update - Encroachment Cases,” plenary speaker and author, International Franchise Association Legal Symposium, Washington, D.C., May 7, 2019.
  • “Pressure Points in Franchise Litigation,” speaker and co-author, ABA 38th Annual Forum on Franchising, 2015.


J.D., The University of Texas School of Law, 1990

M.A.T., Colorado College, 1979

B.A., Colorado State University, 1974





Court Admissions

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas

U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico

Press Release
Litigator Deb Coldwell Elected to Executive Committee for National Women Attorney Organization
October 19, 2023

Haynes and Boone, LLP Partner Deb Coldwell has been elected to serve on the executive committee for the Center for Women in Law (CWIL) for a three-year term starting in fiscal year 2024. CWIL is housed at The University of Texas at Austin School of Law and is a national resource devoted to the success of the entire spectrum of women in law, creating change in the legal profession to elevate female [...]