5/96: From Leni, Kestrel923@aol.com
I've been at this for 19 years, the last 9 of them split between part-time in an orthopedic office and a variety of free-lance clients whose work I do at home. I've never had a contract, which is not to say it isn't a great idea. Only once have I regretted the "handshake" understanding on which I've worked, and that was last August when a client clinic was sold to a large chain and they 'forgot' to mention it to me until three days before the changeover, although everyone knew something was in the works. The only other client office that stopped using my work (a thermography lab that went out of business) was up-front and gracious, so I had plenty of notice. Have never had a problem otherwise (with payment, etc.). No one has ever suggested or required a contract of me either.
I should note that, were I single and operating with my income as my sole support, I'd probably be forced to be more "businesslike" in this; since I'm in a stable marriage and contribute only about 1/3 of the family income, I've enjoyed the luxury of not worrying about a single client. I have much to learn from those on this board experienced in contractual dealings with clients!