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Navigating a nondisclosure agreement

California architectural or design professionals may sometimes be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, which is a contract that is signed at the beginning of a project prohibiting the any confidential or proprietary information related to the project or the business to be shared or discussed.

Confidential information commonly includes information about customers, passwords and the company’s financial picture. It is natural for business owners to not want this information shared because they need to protect their business and their brand.

Nondisclosure agreements must be adhered to; however, as a design professional, they can put you in a tricky situation. If you are not allowed to talk about or share the project you work on, how can you build your design portfolio and get more business?

How to promote yourself without violating a nondisclosure

There are a few things that you can do to develop and promote your design business and not be in violation of a nondisclosure agreement. You may publish your portfolio but redact any confidential information. Redacting can be done through various methods. You may blur out the confidential information or replace the confidential information with phony information.

Additionally, you can simply ask the business for permission. Many nondisclosure agreements contain an exception that lets the information be shared with written approval. It can’t hurt to try asking for the approval, explaining why sharing the information will be beneficial to you and your design career. The worst thing that can happen is they say no.

If you aren’t sure, talk with an attorney

Knowing what you can and cannot discuss when a nondisclosure agreement is involved can be confusing and complex. Before disclosing any information, it may help to speak with an experienced attorney who can provide advice and guidance, preventing you from violating the agreement.