I’ve recently had a ‘falling out’ with a family friend and also client. I’ve been designing for her for about 2 years and I already have an online portfolio made (including some designs she hasn’t used). There was no contracts involved. I was simply helping a friend. But she was aware in the beginning that I was building a portfolio. (I know, stupid mistake! I’m obviously still learning)
Now she’s requesting that I no longer use anything I’ve made for her in my portfolio. Does she have that right?
I’m assuming you’re in the US, and I am not a lawyer.
Short answer is that unless you have a contract specifically stipulating that the client gets the copyright when the work is complete, they don’t own it, you do.
So I think she can’t stop you.
But consider that potential clients may reach out to her to find out if she had a good experience with you. After a falling out and a specific request not to use the work in your portfolio I can’t imagine that conversation going your way.