I'm about to develop an app for Android and IOS to a company of lawyers, the process, meeting, etc will be online since I don't live on their country. The app only will be available on their country (Mexico).

They give me 2 way of payment, 1 time payment for finished product or a percent of their sales. Now, I want this project to be a long term relationship & a permanent income. the obvious answer is Sales% but what if they don't sale, or I don't get paid by true amount or at all. I got a friend that work there is one of the bosses and I trust him, but no the others since I don't know them.

My META is not huge amount of money, just:

1- Reference on my CV.

2- Future projects with the same Client.

3- A job to rely on for my needs on a daily/monthly basis ex:(helping my family on general payments, devtools, entertainment).

4- Keeping the source code if I can so I can use it for other companies with the same structure.

5- Learning & adding exp. about dev, laws, etc.

Thanks in advance.

  • 1
    Working for your friend and a bunch of lawyers? Payment up front, middle and at end. Do not work for free. Seriously, if the app was going to make any serious money would they be offering a percentage? No. If it does how long will it take a company of lawyers to wrangle their way out of any agreement? About five minutes probably.
    – PaulD
    Nov 17, 2016 at 22:36
  • 1
    "Keeping the source code if I can so I can use it for other companies with the same structure" - If you're working for a bunch of lawyers you'd better make sure you get your ability to do this explicitly put in writing. Otherwise in most locales they own any IP that they pay to have developed, which includes source code. And lawyers aren't going to take kindly to you using "their" code to earn money that they could theoretically be earning.
    – aroth
    Nov 25, 2016 at 4:26

3 Answers 3


Don't do this. You're being set up. You should be getting paid in milestones, and not waiting till the end. Or, get a retainer up front, just like attorneys would do. Here's why.

Payment At End Scenario

They can give you requirements A, B, C up front. You agree to them, and start developing. When you finish B, they request D, E, and F. Time has passed, but you still haven't been paid. They can do this indefinitely. I guarantee, by "E" they'll want to put it in the app store They're earning money, but you're not done with F, so you get nothing.

Payment as Percentage Scenario

This is simple. How will you know how much they've sold? People can lie. "We're waiting on reports, but it's taking a long time, and we can't calculate what we owe you until we get them." What if they don't market the product? What if it's taken down from the app store?

Also Important!!

The other part that stands out in this scenario is the fact that they're in another country. If they don't pay after you've done the work, THEN what? It's ridiculously impossible to sue someone in a foreign country (Look at all the other posts here. Seriously.)

If you propose milestones or a retainer and you encounter a lot of resistance, they probably never intended to pay you in the first place.

  • Yes, I was going to present them a milestone plan of course thanks for point it out anyway, I forgot to say that. I may just do that and not taking the % scenario anymore. Instead will sell them services &/or extra stuff to implement out of the main payment, still figuring out which & what tho. Nov 17, 2016 at 20:16
  • There is some excellent advice in this answer. I would have ticked this one as the right one. Just my humble opinion of course.
    – PaulD
    Nov 17, 2016 at 22:41
  • Percentage payments (in part or in full) are not evil by definition, it's a standard payment form between editors and writers, for musicians, photographers, illustrators, etc. If the client is serious and reliable it is OK. Of course one must use the brain to undestand when it's time to accept that or not.
    – Mario
    Nov 18, 2016 at 7:14

You should opt for a mixed type of payment: a one time discounted payment for finished product plus a percentage of their sales.

But, only if you are very sure that they will sell the app, because if you have any doubt, I would opt for just one time payment plus occasional fees for upgrades and changes, that will come.

Ask yourself: How much is the percentage? How many sales they will have to do to make you earn what you expect? Is that plausible?

Don't trust much what they say, lawyers are very good with words and maybe will make you think that you will earn a lot of money when not. Personally I had sometimes laywers as clients and they were not the best clients to me.

  • Thats a good option what you said there, thanks for the Idea, now I have better perspective and extra options. Thanks Nov 17, 2016 at 15:14

I also think that you should opt for mixed payment, i.e. they should pay you for work done when you deliver predefined milestone, but also you should ask for percentage or monthly fee for support and additional funds for further development.

Do not give them source code (unless it was agreed previously), at least not until they pay you at least three times of what is now offered to you. Regarding percentage fee, you can try to implement analytics into your app and measure number of unique users that used your app.

Also, think about offering them app as a service, i.e. find a way to be the only person that can be administer the app, including possibility to take the app down if they refuse to pay you what was earlier agreed.

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