(A NATAS speaking engagement personified)
By Andrew J. Contiguglia, Attorney at law
Put your contracts in writing!
Think of a situation where you go to someone’s office and you sit down and pitch a deal. Or you show up at lunch and you are talking and you say, “That seems like a great idea! Why don’t we go ahead and do that.” Or you might meet them in a conference room and try to put something together under more formal circumstances. One thing that I do after engaging in these types of conversations, whether it is dealing with someone on the telephone or sitting down with them, is them a deal memo, recapping the conversation. A deal memo says that, pursuant to the conversation earlier this afternoon, it is my understanding that we are going to do the following…. I usually conclude my deal memos with, “If this is not your understanding, let me know immediately.” This way, if they don’t get around to doing what they said they would, if it ever comes up in court down the line, you can say we met for lunch, we discussed these deal points and immediately that afternoon, I typed a letter, sent it to this person, and told him to let me know if he didn’t agree. And that person will be sitting on the stand saying yes, I did get that letter, and no, I didn’t tell them that I didn’t agree with them. There are number of ways that you can go about doing this. You can have a secretary perform these tasks for you or you can hire an attorney to do it for you. Or, just like trying to lose weight, you can change your habits. You have to learn to do these things. You have to take your industry seriously, not only from a creative standpoint, but also from a business standpoint. Because once you become creative, you have to become businessmen. If you do not do these things, you will continue to run into problems.