Q:I have contracts and I use them for the most part; however, on occasion a client will call and need something within a few days. We hate faxing and they seem to get annoyed when we ask them to scan and email a signed contact. So, is a digitally/electronically signed contract legally binding? Is it worth paying a monthly fee for this type of service?
Q:Hi first I love the video F*ck You, Pay Me. Now I want to re-do our web development contracts are you taking new clients ? or can I pick whoever is in the Super Lawyers from my area? what practice area should my lawyer have to be qualify to help me? Thanks!
Thanks very much for the kind words.
I am taking on new clients in limited circumstances. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll see if it’s a good fit.
Generally speaking, I think the best way to find a lawyer is to get referrals from your friends, colleagues or family. (I use that method for most all service providers, personally.)
Q:Hello Gabe! A few of my fellows designer and myself are looking to start a non-profit here in the Bay. Having not started a non-profit before I was wondering if you could give some advice on obtaining non-profit status or pointing me to someone who can help?
While I don’t have experience with non-profit entities, I’m sure there a number of good lawyers in the Bay Area that do. I don’t know any personally; so, am hesitant to recommend any. This may be a decent place for you to start: http://bit.ly/1f9E9iX
Q:Hi Gabe, Can i get sample contract template? Harish
I think the AIGA contract is a decent place to start.
Q:Hi Gabe:I was listening to your recent podcast on legal issues regarding showing work in your portfolio. As a self-employed designer / animator this is something that is constantly on my mind. So my question is this. If a design studio typically assigns the copyright of work to clients on full payment, how can they dictate that their employees / freelancers not post it in their own portfolios? As I said on twitter, I'm looking at it from an artist's POV not an employer. Thanks!
This is really a tough one. If you have no written contract with the company, it’s possible you may have some “moral rights” to promote your work, but those aren’t really established in the US. Moreover, all of your work for the employer that is copyrightable is a “work made for hire” under the Copyright Act. So, you don’t have the right to use that material, irrespective of who owns it. So, whether it’s the company or their client trying to prevent you from using it, you could be at risk by doing so.
Ultimately, the best advice I think I can give in this situation is to try to work with your former employer to get some limited promotional rights to particular work.
Good luck. I know this is a frustrating one.
Q:Hi Gabe and Mike. Your video is inspiring and entertaining. I am a freelance graphic designer who is considering pitching web design and development—I design and the developer/coder is another person. We are both currently freelancers and not ready to jump into a formal, ongoing partnership, but would like to partner on a couple of jobs to see how this will work out. Should there be 1 contract or 2 (cumbersome). How should we structure being paid for our work? Thanks.
If you’re not forming a partnership, then two separate contracts with the client would be necessary. That said, this may be undesirable and cumbersome for your client; so, you might consider a general partnership limited to the scope of the project.
Q:Hello Gabe, I registered a new LLC to run my design business. I'm using Form LLC-12 to change my address (from my home address) to a post office box. According to Form LLC-12, I can not use a P.O. Box. The location I'm using offers a "physical address," meaning, you don't have to write P.O. Box 555 when you give people your address. You can write "#555" or "Suite 555," etc. Does that meet Form LLC-12's requirements? Or is that cheating? I don't want my home address to be "out there."
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but an actual physical address is needed when the agencies require it. A lot of people tend to secure inexpensive shared/co-working space, in part for this reason.
Q:Hi Mike/Gabe, In "Design is a Job" you mention clients waffling over decisions, and if they don't get decisions to you have to charge them for extra 4 days of work. I recently had a client put a 4 week deadline on a project, which was a scramble to achieve. Two days after signing, he stalls the project for 1 week, then 2 more days, then another week. How do you protect yourself against this from the get go, and how do you determine what to bill if a project takes longer (just for overhead?).
This is truly a sticky wicket.
Erika and I discussed related contract/timing issues on a very recent episode of Running From the Law: http://www.muleradio.net/rftl/42/
There are a number of different ways to/models for dealing with this, including:
(a) The sprint model, where the client pays for a two-week sprint in advance, and you commit for a certain number of hours (say up to 40/week) during that two-week period. It doesn’t matter whether or how much you work during that period, and the payment is nonrefundable. In other words, the client has reserved your time.
(b) A “pause clause” (credit to Carl Smith of nGen Works for the name), which allows you to pause work, keep any advance/deposit, bill for any additional work done prior to pause not covered by the deposit/advance, and recommence the project at your convenience (and subject to reasonably modified terms if you’d like) if/when the client is ready.
Both of those options can be tricky to negotiate, but they do provide protection in the case of the scenario you describe.
Q:This one is for Gabe: Can you recommend a lawyer (contract law) in Delaware (or who practices in Delaware?) Perhaps you have a friend/colleague/college buddy who practices in DE.
I only know the name of a litigation guy in DE, but most corporate lawyers out here in CA and other states should be at least somewhat familiar with DE law.
Q:Hi Gabe, I've been at a UX design agency for 2.5 years and am now leaving to start my own freelance/consulting business. Should I hire someone like you to help write my initial contracts? (If so, but you're too busy, who should I hire in the Bay Area?) Or, should I just make my own contracts based on what my agency had and the advice in "Design is a Job"? Thanks!
If you can afford it, you should have a lawyer prepare your agreements. If you can’t, “Design is a Job” is a great resource. I also think the AIGA standard form agreement is decent, but it’s not right for everyone, and has some moving pieces.
I am accepting new clients under certain circumstances, and would be happy to chat with you. Please feel free to email or call me in the New Year.