Since I’m on issue number 12 of BizB4Law, and I haven’t yet written a “Things to Know About X” kind of article, I thought it was probably time. And, since I drafted a consulting agreement this week, that seemed like a timely topic. Please understand that this article, like all of my blog posts, is written by me and not by some service – therefore, it reflects my thinking at the time of writing and based on recent experiences. I urge readers to understand that this is not an exclusive or all-inclusive list of the issues that arise in consulting agreements. With that caveat, here is a list of topics that should be addressed in almost all consulting agreements or service contracts:
- Scope – what is the consultant being asked to do?
- Deliverables – what work product or deliverables will be provided?
- Timeline – when will they be provided?
- Satisfaction/Acceptance – how will it be determined whether the work product or deliverables are acceptable?
- Standard of Care – what level of skill or care will be required (e.g., good faith, commercially reasonable, best efforts, best in the industry, measured by an external standard – e.g., GAAP)?
- Term of Engagement – how long will the relationship last?
- Payment – when and how will the consultant be paid?
- Confidentiality – is there a need that information provided to or generated by the consultant will be held in confidence?
- Insurance – is it important that the consultant maintain, e.g., errors and omissions or other insurance? Will the client be an additional insured?
- Indemnification – will the consultant indemnify the client for anything – e.g., mistakes, misrepresentations, gross negligence, willful misconduct, violations of law, breaches of the agreement? Will the client indemnify the consultant for liability suffered because the consultant worked for the client?
- Warranties and Representations – will the consultant warrant the work product or other matters (e.g., non-infringement, legal compliance)?
- Intellectual Property – who will own and have the right to use the work product? Any limits?
- Authority – will the consultant have authority to speak on behalf of or bind the client?
- Dispute Resolution; Choice of Law; Venue – how will disputes be resolved and where (e.g., mediation, arbitration, litigation); what law will govern? These issues are particularly important for international agreements (do you want to be in a courtroom in, e.g., Afghanistan with Afghan law being argued to an Afghan jury in the Afghan language?).
As noted above, these are not all of the issues to consider in a consulting agreement – but if you start with these, you’re well on your way.