Law 101: Why design entrepreneurs need to understand the basics

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Brand + Business x Christine Moody*

Designers—and I count myself as one!—are great at what they do, but not so great at ‘the other stuff’. We are naturally curious and excited about interesting projects and opportunities—sometimes at the risk of the practical detail. The personal crises we sometimes find ourselves in are often a result of rushing ahead without considering the long-term consequences.

We get swept up in the excitement of a project and ‘lose our heads’. So, in my book Designer Law School: Legal lessons for design entrepreneurs, I set out to make designers aware of the ‘other stuff’. I wanted to give them the opportunity to take a breath and understand the possible legal implications of what they do. As a designer, my natural inclination was to lead with my heart and not my head. I was often very emotional when it came to decision-making.

In the book, I share my personal experiences because I ‘get it’. I ‘get’ designers and the world in which they live. I ‘get’ that designers don’t make any distinction between work and life. To us, work is an integral part of life! We love what we do and we spend our lives doing it. In fact, I’m sure that other professionals may be secretly jealous: we get to do something we love every day of our lives!

First, I have learned that you need to seek professional help from other parties, including your colleagues, your lawyers, and your accountants. You need to surround yourself with trustworthy advisors and mentors who will help bring you back to earth when your heart is telling you to simply sign a document and get the deal done so that you can start work. But this is not enough.

You also have to understand what your advisors are saying and consider their advice in both short and long-term scenarios.

I want you to understand when you need to seek professional legal advice, how to find it and how to brief a lawyer to get the best outcome.

As the old adage goes, ‘If it sounds too good to be true…’. Never be afraid or in too much of a rush to get a second opinion. If you are—and I have been guilty of this—bad decision-making can result. In particular, I want you to understand when you need to seek professional legal advice, how to find it, and how to brief a lawyer to get the best outcome.

During the writing of my book, I enrolled in Applied Australian Law and have really enjoyed understanding the legal terminology and how it fits into the Australian legal system. The idea is not to become a lawyer, but to be able to speak to designers in a language they understand and assist them to navigate the business world.

As an aside, I continue to be overwhelmed by the positive feedback coming in for my book—Designer Law School. Legal lessons for design entrepreneurs. Here is another comment that I wanted to share:

Get over yourself and buy this book! Christine Moody provides sage advice for any design business looking to engage lawyers, she has built a bridge over the communication divide to enable your experience with legal practitioners to be the best it possibly can be.

Sarah Bartholomeusz, Founder and CEO, You Legal; and author of How to Avoid a Fall from Grace and Kingpin: Legal lessons from the Underworld

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*Christine Moody is one of Australia’s leading brand strategists and the founder brand management consultancy, Brand Audits. With more than 30 years’ professional experience, Christine has helped a diverse client base of local and international brands, including Gold Coast City Council, Hilton Hotels and Wrigleys USA, to develop, protect and achieve brand differentiation. Her particular interest is personal brand audits to assist executives realise their full potential. She is also an author and a law student.

For more information: chris.moody@brandaudits.com.au or +61 419 888 468.

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About—Designer Law School. Legal lessons for design entrepreneurs
(Stockists Folio Books: Folio@FolioBooks.com.au; iBook store; and Amazon)

Christine Moody is one of Australia’s leading brand strategists. She is the founder of brand management consultancy, Brand Audits, and several successful start-up companies. Designer Law School is her latest venture.

This book is a cautionary tale for all designers, entrepreneurs, managers and educators. With the wit and wisdom born of long experience (and some pretty hard knocks along the way), Christine encourages her fellow designers (and all designers, creatives and entrepreneurs, for that matter) to respect and understand the legal issues that affect their daily business. In a series of practical ‘lessons’ full of ‘good-to-know’ tips and topics, the book alerts others to the risks of ‘doing business’ without a keen eye on the possible legal pitfalls along the way. At the same time, Christine engages the reader through her obvious care and concern for their challenges and encases her ‘lessons’ in the motivational framework of her personal struggle for justice and survival.

 

Photo credit: Study Desk Still Life x Christine Moody 2016.

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