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Questions for a Digital Marketing Expert: Don’t Pay For a Website You Don’t Own


Despite industry expertise regarding fine lines, many law firms (and other types of companies) find themselves locked out of their websites and tricked out of much of their content at the end of a partnership with a web developer or marketing agency. 
For instance, some agencies insert clauses into their contracts that provide them ownership over all content they created for you over the course of your partnership. If they’ve been writing blogs and building your website, all of that data is now theirs. 
If you’ve been paying for months or even years to have that content created, you’ve lost a good chunk of your website (and, subsequently, your SEO). 
So, in order to prevent this loss, it’s important that law firms make themselves aware of the various levels of ownership that a marketing agency can have over the content they create: 
1. The agency/developer owns the site. 
In this situation, the agency owns everything that they created, even though you paid for it. They own the website itself, the coding that built it, the design of the site and all images and copy that they were responsible for creating and uploading. 
This is not an ideal situation. If an agency approaches your firm with this ownership structure – run! 
2. The agency owns the code, but the design and content on the website is yours. 
While this isn’t the same as owning the website outright, this situation is preferable compared to the one above. You can retain the content that was created for your website, which has built your SEO and your library of blogs, case studies, etc. If you decide to part ways with the agency that created your website, you won’t have to start from complete scratch. 
However, it is important to note that the code itself is what your website is made of. So, if you’re paying to have a website designed, it only makes sense that the code ownership remains with the buyer. 
3. You have the rights to everything the agency created, even the code.
This situation is ideal. However, there’s often a catch – you have to ask for the code after you part ways with the company. Oftentimes, this is not something they will hand over after your agreement has been terminated. But, if you ask for it, they will hand it over if your contract stipulates that you own it. From there, you can copy the code and paste it onto a new web host. 
Note: We assume you own your website domain name (e.g. If you do not, make sure you get ownership of your domain and the logins at the registrar (for instance, GoDaddy) to control it. 
For a more detailed explanation of website coding, registration, and hosting, check out this article.
Take a look at the language from a popular law firm marketing agency’s contract. 

Who owns the content? All of the licensed content is owned by either, one of it’s subsidiary brands (E.g. OfficeDrift™, SanAntonioLogo™, LocalAutoSalvageYards™, OdinsGreenBeard™), or the artists who supply the content. All rights not expressly granted in this agreement are reserved by, all of it’s subsidiary brands (E.g. OfficeDrift™, SanAntonioLogo™, LocalAutoSalvageYards™, OdinsGreenBeard™), and the content suppliers.

Looks fishy, right? 
Essentially, whatever this company creates for your website, they own. 
So, if you decide to part ways, you have to forfeit everything they’ve given you. And you’re right back to square one. 
Here’s what we recommend:
Hire an honorable company that will build you a website correctly, on WordPress (the most common platform), based on best practices, and most importantly, under your ownership. 
If you’re looking for a company you can trust – good news! Ten Golden Rules creates websites for law firms and a variety of other types of clients from scratch. And, if you decide that your agreement with us is no longer suiting your needs, you own everything. 
Contact us today for a free consultation!