Is this ethical?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is this ethical?

I am a freelance art director. I have a new client who has contracted me to design a brochure for which I submitted an invoice with terms they also want to retain my services for 6 month so I submitted my retainer agreement. These are documents that I have used for many years with many clients. The client’s lawyers rewrote my retainer agreement combined it with my invoice with additional language and sent it back to me to sign. Shouldn’t they have asked for changes if they disagreed with something? I am no lawyer but conflict of interest comes to mind.

Asked on June 25, 2019 under Business Law, Maryland


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It is ethical because a contract must be agreed to by both sides and either side may propose changes--including by rewriting the not-yet-signed contract. If you don't like their changes, you don't have to sign it: you can insist on the original contract, accept some changes but propose alterations or omission of other ones, etc. Ultimately, either you and they will agree on terms or not: you and they can go back and forth about it any number of times until you either agree (or one of you gives up and walks away from the deal), and you can propose changes by phone, by email, by marking up an existing draft, by rewriting or revising what was sent to you, etc.

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