A graphic design company that prepares annual reports, brochures, and other promotional material for large companies learned the hard way that credit arrangements with freelancers and employees should be made in writing.

When the New York City concern recently hired a freelance designer to help prepare a sales promotion brochure, the company's two principals and the part-time designer verbally agreed that if any printed credit were given it would go to the company.

Just as the promotional piece hit the presses, the freelancer's lawyer delivered a letter threatening lawsuits against both the design company and the client for not giving the freelancer printed credit. The design company is now threatening lawsuits against the freelancer for damages to the client relationship caused by his threats.

Punishing legal fees and mental anguish could have been avoided if the company had originally drafted an agreement for all freelancers and employees to sign that established the company's right to determine printed credits.