Hire an AttorneyIf budget allows, hire an attorney to handle the legal side of your design business, whether you own a firm or work as a freelancer. If attorney fees aren't in your current budget, try to find a friend or family member who may assist you in getting started. Having a lawyer you trust to look over contracts and help with legal issues will help to ensure you are paid for your work, that you maintain your copyrights, and that you are not taken advantage of.
Protect Your Copyrights
By law, the graphic designer retains the right to his or her work. Owning the rights to your work gives you the right to get paid for additional use of a design and protect it from unwanted changes. Be careful of situations in which a client requests "work-for-hire," as this implies you will not retain the copyright. There are only certain situations in which this is legal.
Always Use a Contract
You may trust your client, and they may trust you, but a good rule of thumb is to always use a contract. Signing a contract should not be seen as an uncomfortable moment in which you are telling the client everything you require and that they can't do. Instead, it should be seen as an agreement that protects both parties. If you are constantly doing small jobs or updates for a particular client, you may want to draft a contract that spells out the terms of this work rather than having one for each project. Larger projects should have a specific contract that details the job to be completed.