Never Write a Contract using Cut-and-Paste.

Writing contracts is not an activity to be taken lightly. Consider your time working with a lawyer as a smart and necessary investment for you and your business. No matter if it’s just you working nights and weekends or if you have employees and contractors (which requires another, different, type of contract), find a good lawyer and invest in your future.

There is way, way too much to risk with writing a contract by yourself without review by a practicing lawyer. I suggest gathering the resources on contracts that you have found and working with a lawyer to create the right document that protects you within your country’s legal system. Laws are different between countries, provinces, states, counties, municipalities, cities, etc.

Look for a lawyer or law firm that has expertise in copyright and intellectual property. Just as I would not hire a designer to hang drywall, I would not pay a dime to a law firm that specializes in real estate law to write a contract for a digital services firm, because they likely do not know enough about that area of law. Don’t discount how important this is because your future may rely on your lawyer’s fundamental understanding of your business and the related legal areas. And once you’ve found a good lawyer, do what you can to create a great, long-standing relationship.

Finally, let’s talk about the cost because this should not be an issue. How many times do we lament about client’s who don’t want to pay for our own services? Whether it’s being asked for no-spec work or reducing rates, how is paying for legal services any different? You get what you pay for whether it’s cheap legal help or trying to get something for nothing. In either case the potential consequences — bad contracts or a bad reputation — aren’t worth it. You’re a designer, be a good member of the community by investing in your future and theirs.

You may never find yourself on the wrong side of a lawsuit (hooray!), but it’s not worth the risk relying on a piecemeal contract that you put together by yourself. Don’t be cheap, find a good lawyer who understands the digital realm and cover your ass. A good Pro-forma contract will take a lawyer a few hours at most, an expense you can easily amortize over a handful of projects. Seek to establish a new business relationship with a good law firm, it’s money and time well-spent.