Architecting Pillars of Collaboration

As lawyers representing creators, we constantly strive to match our approach to legal issues with our clients’ goals and desired outcomes. Doing so requires a keen understanding of the distinct manner in which each client approaches their business, art, and professional and creative identity. This concept is exemplified through the type of collaboration the lawyers here at Jayaram and our dear friends, colleagues, and office mates, Snarkitecture, regularly engage in.

This article sheds some light on this relationship through the lens of drafting and negotiating Snarkitecture’s various contracts, and how a deep understanding of Snarkitecture’s creative identity and its industry plays a key role in providing the type of legal services an organization like Snarkitecture needs. 

When entering into partnership and collaboration agreements on behalf of Snarkitecture, there are generally three main areas
of focus:

1.Preserving the Integrity of Snarkitecture’s Creative Identity and Underlying Intellectual Property

Snarkitecture has a clearly defined creative aesthetic developed through years of meticulous design innovation. With this aesthetic comes the establishment of real intellectual property rights, the development and expansion of which is critical for Snarkitecture’s continued success and evolution.

For Snarkitecture to maintain and develop its creative identity, it must retain ownership over both its pre-existing intellectual property and, generally speaking, the works it contributes/creates under the agreement itself. If Snarkitecture were to assign rights in said intellectual property, this could hinder Snarkitecture from expanding that IP and engaging in future projects.

Communicating this in a contract requires the lawyer to understand how IP law intersects with Snarkitecture’s long term business goals. Many times, corporate partners, hiring entities, or any person or organization hiring Snarkitecture may not fully understand how critical Snarkitecture’s ownership retention over its intellectual property is for the business. Accordingly, it becomes the lawyer’s responsibility to educate Snarkitecture’s various partners about this concern during the negotiation process.

2, Establishing Clear Roles and Responsibilities of each Party in the Agreement Itself

Snarkitecture’s projects are complex and multifaceted. Each party to the agreement plays its own role in concepting, designing, and implementing the various aspects of a Snarkitecture project. Facilitating this process as legal and business advisors requires constant, clear dialogue with Snarkitecture’s team to make sure roles and responsibilities under the agreement are consistent with the desired intent of the parties.

There are a multitude of industry-specific issues and standards that lawyers representing designers and architecture firms must be familiar with to ensure these roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. These factors include, but are not limited to, specific payment standards, nuances of construction and architecture related regulations (e.g., permitting, liability, insurance, etc.), and a variety of other aspects. 

If these points are not negotiated correctly or left out of the agreement entirely, it can derail collaboration once the project is underway. It is the lawyer’s responsibility to connect with both sides and establish which party is responsible for which aspects of the project, then detail those responsibilities clearly in the contract itself.

3, Facilitating a Stellar
Contracting Experience for All Parties Involved

Snarkitecture has a vested interest in protecting its rights, as described above; however, another goal is to ensure that the project itself is a success: making sure the hiring parties/partners are excited, satisfied and completely aligned with the overall approach. Ultimately, this means finding ways to be good partners to Snarkitecture’s clients and ideally establishing long term relationships.

Lawyers are both clients’ legal representatives and an extension of the culture of the organization itself. Snarkitecture’s identity exudes, among many things, excitement, daring innovation, positivity, professionalism and a commitment to pushing design forward as a whole. We, as their lawyers, need to maintain this positive, solution-oriented mentality whilst negotiating on their behalf so as to facilitate a successful partnership and keep momentum moving forward. 

What this means in practice is finding ways to overcome obstacles while balancing the most important negotiation points in the agreement. Snarkitecture is thoughtful in selecting its collaborators, so although we are advocating for them as fervently as possible, adopting a collaborative as opposed to combative approach and  finding ways to compromise where possible are key components of creating the most successful collaboration possible and preserving Snarkitecture’s stellar reputation.

Lawyers should have a genuine interest in the intricacies of the businesses of their clients. As lawyers, we are responsible for architecting the foundation or ‘blueprint’ of the partnership by creating a legal document that encapsulates the spirit of the partnership and takes into consideration the needs of our client and the desire to actually create the project. 

The more we understand about our clients’ businesses and creative identities, the more impactful and efficient our legal advice can become. The close-knit relationship (both professionally and proximity wise as office mates) and constant, open dialogue between the lawyers at Jayaram and the Snarkitecture team fosters this type of nuanced collaboration.