It’s the end of another calendar year. That means it’s time to take stock of all the things you didn’t do last year and mean to do this year. Here’s our list of items that every agency should consider checking in on annually:

Service Agreements and SOWs

Many are predicting a slow-down for creative and agency work this year and you may have already felt it at your studio. The contract terms you offered when times were good may not be a good fit for when times are lean.

We recommend agencies give their service agreement and SOWs an annual tune-up to reflect changes in business conditions, client mix, typical project scope, pricing, and risks. For instance, you may want to move more of your clients over to a retainer structure to keep that revenue regular or switch to a bigger deposit up front. We can help you implement those types of changes for 2024 with advice on different payment structures. Maybe you want to make a habit of addressing changes in the economy and your business with an annual update of your contract documents. Our Contract Monitor service can help with that.

Remote Workers and Distributed Agencies

The pandemic changed the workplace in many ways, including remote workers and completely distributed agencies. If your employees moved away from your office during the pandemic or you hired talent in another state, you need to ensure you’re meeting certain remote worker requirements.

Your company needs to register to do business in every state where your employees are located, and you should familiarize yourself with the various state laws that apply to your employees. Sick leave, workers compensation, and parental leave all vary by state.

Owner/​Partner Agreement

An owner agreement is not a​“one and done” contract. It should be periodically reviewed and updated as business and owner goals change. If your owner agreement hasn’t been reviewed in a while, it’s time to dust it off and make sure it reflects current ownership, business goals, buyout mechanics, and related provisions.

Don’t have an owner agreement you say? This is Priority One for your 2024 legal to-do list.

Employment Documents

January 1st is often when new state and federal employment laws take effect. This is a good time to check in with counsel about whether you need any updates to your offer letters, employment agreements, and employee handbooks.

Even setting aside legal changes, an agency should update employment-related templates every couple years. For example, your existing non-compete provisions may not be enforceable. Also, remote workplaces provide agencies with the ability to hire top talent located around the country, however you may need something extra to entice them to stay. We can talk with you about putting creative incentive options in place.

Contractor Agreements

Like many corporate agreements, contractor agreements deserve periodic review. Notably, California’s Assembly Bill 5 has changed the independent contractor landscape dramatically. If you operate in California or engage California contractors, you should consult with your advisors about how this bill may affect you. Outside of California, other states are considering or have adopted rules similar to AB5 affecting the gig economy and use of freelancers. Best get updated on what’s new.

Talk with us about worker classification so you don’t end up running afoul of the laws and owe penalties, back wages, and more.

Corporate Status

Every state requires corporations and LLCs to file some form of an annual report to keep their entity registration up to date. We routinely see businesses that have accidentally let this filing lapse. Check with the secretary of state to make sure you are current on your corporate filings. If you need help keeping up with your corporate paperwork, our Corporate Monitor service may be of assistance.

Privacy and Data Handling

While California was first with its landmark law, several more states have rolled out data handling and privacy laws in the past few years (with more to come). Agencies that collect data or manage campaigns for clients may be subject to these privacy laws. Certain exemptions under the laws may require you to add new provisions to your services agreement. Check with your advisors so you stay on top of these laws.

Trademark Registration

This year could be the year to finally get your common law trademark registered with the USPTO. A federal trademark protects your name or logo against infringement. It lets your clients and the public know your name is associated with your goods and services.

Also, if you might sell your agency in the future, owning a federally registered trademark is a nice piece of intellectual property to have in your pile of assets.

Corporate Paperwork

Your corporation or LLC may need annual minutes or paperwork to reflect recent corporate transactions. The first few months of the year are a good time for this corporate housekeeping and catching up on things you may have missed last year (or the last few years). Our Corporate Monitor service can help with this, too.

Interested in how a law firm specializing in creative agencies can help you? Give us a ring.