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Do You Own Your Website Content and Design?

This lawyer I know has been chugging along with a website he doesn’t love for the past few years. Two months ago, he decided that it was time to upgrade. He started interviewing web design firms.

As the selection process moved forward, he began to detail the specifications for the project. The goal is an updated look using some of the existing content. He also wants to move the site to a new hosting provider.

Last week, he told the existing web services firm about his plans.

The firm said it would be sad to see him go. The firm also explained that it, not the lawyer, owned the content and design of the existing site. It referred him to language in the contract that provides the details.

The firm offered to allow him to take ownership of its interest in exchange for a fee. Personally, I think the fee is exorbitant.

Today, the message is to check your contract carefully before you commit to one of these firms. Make sure you own it all. Make sure you can take it with you. Make sure it’s yours. Don’t get caught by surprise.

After all, we’re lawyers; we can’t let this happen to us.

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  • njAtty

    I’m always surprised when I hear about attorneys who don’t pay attention to their own contracts and SLAs. I guess it’s like all of us who don’t have wills? Doh that reminds me…

  • Allison Shields

    Lee, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this with lawyers and their sites. It’s so frustrating!

  • Karin Quirk

    I fought for my content. I wrote every word myself. It was simple to just take the wording and reuse. However the pictures were all Getty images and I did not own license. Who needs pictures of people I don’t even know. I paid a designer for new graphic design — no people pictures. Now I own everything. I still pay good web folks but I won all the content.

Lee Rosen

Lee Rosen has practiced family law for more than twenty years. With four offices, Rosen Law Firm serves Raleigh, Charlotte, Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Rosen served as the Law Practice Management Editor of the ABA Family Advocate for more than a decade and received the ABA James Keane Award for excellence in eLawyering. He served as Chair of the Law Practice Management Section of the North Carolina Bar Association, is a frequent speaker and is often sought out by the media as a source of family law insight and commentary.