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’ on the partnership deal. Speaking as a creative, it’s easy to understand this. 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!