Years ago during a contract review session between a university and its prospective advisor, the university’s general counsel, after listening to a concern from the advisor regarding a particular contractual term, stated, “If you want our money, you will take our contract; take it or leave it.” While most university administrators may never utter these words out loud, it is not an uncommon thought to hold; however, it is not a healthy way to begin a constructive business relationship from which both parties hope to benefit, especially if the contract is heavily weighted in the institution’s favor.
As institutions’ auxiliary enterprises become more complex and as in-house resources become more stretched, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges and universities are increasingly turning to professional services firms for help with challenging financial, facility, technological, operational, and human capital matters. Once the advisor is selected, it is crucial for the parties to get under contract so work can begin with proper protections for all involved. How can you do this with the least amount of anxiety, expense, and effort – and in a way that sets up the partnership to be as beneficial as possible? I offer the following 12 tips to help with that effort, each learned over many years of reviewing and editing hundreds of professional services contracts from both sides of the desk, originally as a senior university administrator and now as a professional services company executive. An important disclaimer: I am not an attorney. My tips come from a lot of time in the contracting trenches and lessons learned in the school of hard knocks.
This is an excerpt from an article published by NACAS’s College Services Magazine. Read the full piece.