Split Types: Avoiding Painful Breakups

Sigh. . . it’s always unfortunate when partners break up. We were saddened to hear about the Hoeffler Frere-Jones split. At this point, it looks like the case will grind through State of New York courts for some time to come.

In that lawsuit filed yesterday, Frere-Jones stated: “In the most profound treachery and sustained exploitation of friendship, trust and confidence, Hoefler accepted all the benefits provided by Frere-Jones while repeatedly promising Frere-Jones that he would give him the agreed equity, only to refuse to do so when finally demanded.” And Hoeffler responds that the claims, “are false and without legal merit.”

Frere-Jones seems to have made the mistake of ‘not getting it in writing’ to make the partnership deal legally binding. As a creative, it’s easy to understand this. But legal contracts can help creatives avoid painful breakups — financially and otherwise. Before entering a partnership there are a number of considerations:

  • Do I trust this person?
  • Get it in writing.
  • Simple contracts are fine, but all contracts should be formalized.
  • Define exit conditions.

That last one can be especially tough because few of us like to contemplate a split at the outset of any relationship — whether business or personal. But think of the legal fees you will save by getting an agreement formalized in writing while there’s a world of good will.

Good news saved for last: AIGA has developed a master contract template as a starting point for creatives; you can find it at docracy.com. Docracy has a library of contract templates that may be useful.

Disclaimer: This article intends to be helpful but should not be treated as legal advice!

1 reply
  1. Dan
    Dan says:

    Thanks for including that link to docracy! Like many other freelancers I’ve been burned a couple of times, and find that I continually need to improve my work agreements – those samples are helpful. I am curious about differences between the way that states handle contracts, whether there’s a significant difference – since some of my clients are out of state from my location. I guess that’s the situation when you do need to hire a lawyer?

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