I mentioned this before in another similar thread, but freelance designer/client contracts don’t need to read as though they were written by a team of lawyers. Most designer/client disputes never end up in court, and when they do, it will likely be small claims court where the judge will never in a million years wade through something like Article 2 of the U.S. Uniform Commercial Code.
In my 40 years of doing freelance work, I’ve never been sued and have only needed to take two clients to court. In both instances, the judges spent less than five minutes listening to both sides, before making half-baked decisions that couldn’t be enforced anyway without going back to courts and talking still more judges into garnishing wages or dipping into bank accounts from deadbeats. Heading to court if rarely worth it unless tens of thousands of dollars are a stake, and when that happens, it’s a nightmare best avoided if at all possible.
More than it being a legal document, I regard designer-client contracts as being simple agreements that both parties can refer to to read what was actually agreed upon. They don’t need to be complicated and full of legalese. A dispute involving a few hundred or thousand dollars is just not going to end up in a court case that requires spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees to sort through.
In other words, keep the signed agreements simple, clear, concise, understandable and straight-forward. The AIGA and GAG templates are great references, but they’re overkill by ten fold for most freelance projects. Take the gist of what they say, whittle them down to only what’s relevant and actually needed for the job. Include what’s needed and don’t be sloppy, but it does not need to be bullet-proof like it was going to be argued before the Supreme Court.