Legal Resources for Freelancers
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Handling the legal aspects of doing business has got to be the most dreaded part of freelancing. Most of us have very little knowledge in this field without taking the time to do some research, and even then it can be confusing and frustrating.
Of course, this isn’t one of the core functions of your freelance business, and it’s easy to see any time spent on legal issues as a loss in terms of available working hours. For this reason it’s good to take advantage of the legal resources that are available to freelancers.
In this post we’ll take a look at a number of resources, both online and off, that may be able to make your life easier and help you to achieve more productivity while protecting the legality of your business. Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments.
Contracts and Forms:
Creative Public is a membership site for web and graphic designers that provides legal resources, such as contracts, forms, pricing guides, and more. Membership costs $49.95 (a one-time non-recurring fee).
LawDepot has a number of contracts that you can create by filling in your own information. You’ll provide the relevant details of your contract and it will produce the legal document.
The Freelancer’s FAQ is not the prettiest page, but it does provide a number of sample contracts that can save you some time. They provide a sample proposal with cover letter, a short version contract, a long version contract, a non-disclosure agreement, and a few others.
Elance provides a few sample contracts and agreements, including a non-disclosure agreement, mutual non-disclosure agreement, buyer/service provider agreement, project agreement and statement of work, change order agreement, and an engagement letter.
AIGA provides a standard form of agreement for design services (in PDF format)
Get a free work for hire agreement from Rocket Lawyer. Create an account, fill out the details, and it will create the form.
MyNewCompany.com sells a CD-ROM with over 200 business and tax forms of all kinds.
ContractPal is a resource for completing, validating, signing and processing contracts online. Pricing is $3.99 per transaction unless the number of monthly transactions exceeds 2,500.
FindLaw has forms for small businesses available for purchase, some of which are relevant to freelancers.
Articles on Legal Aspects of Freelancing:
How to Create a Freelancing Contract – About.com
Developing a Contract – AllFreelanceWork.com
How to Write Effective Business Contracts – AllBusiness.com
National Writers Union
The National Writers Union (U.S.) is the trade union for freelance and contract writers. You can get a membership in the union for $120 – $340 per year, depending on your income. Among the benefits of membership is contract advice from the union’s network of contract advisors.
American Society of Journalists and Authors
The American Society of Journalists and Authors helps professional freelance writers advance their writing careers. There is a $50 application fee and, if accepted, a one-time fee of $75. When considering applications, they look for “sustained evidence” that you have written for magazines, newspapers, or major publications.
United States Copyright Office
Copyright.gov is the home for information regarding copyrights and work in the U.S.
The homepage for Creative Commons may provide some helpful information depending on the type of work that you’re doing.
Ask Legal Questions:
FindLaw Answers is a forum where you can post your legal questions.
At JustAnswer you can ask a question online and pay for an answer from a legal professional.
LawGuru allows you the opportunity to ask a question and receive an answer for free.
Consultant and Independent Contractor Agreements by Stephen Fishman.
Tax Deductions A to Z for Freelance and Contract Workers by Anne Skalka.
Consultant and Independant Contractor Agreements by Stephen Fishman.
Choose the Best Legal Entity for Your One-Person Business by Stephen Fishman (eGuide).
Legal Forms for Starting and Running a Small Business by Fred S. Steingold.
Legal Guide to Web & Software Development by Stephen Fishman