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.