The Complete Guide to Drafting Professional Services Agreements

A detailed guide on creating a Professional Services Agreement using foundation, primary, secondary and schedule building blocks.
How to draft a Professional Services Agreement


Professional Services Agreement

A Professional Services Agreement (PSA) refers to a legal contract between two parties: a client and a service provider (often a tech company, consultant, or independent contractor).

The purpose of the PSA is to define the specific professional services the service provider will deliver to the client. This could involve services such as configuration of software, system integration, data analysis, IT consulting etc.

It is important to remember that in a PSA, the client is “buying” knowledge and expertise from the service provider. This knowledge and expertise are usually offered in the form of specific services tailored to meet the client’s particular needs.

A PSA typically focuses on a single project or task. The scope of work is clearly defined within the agreement, specifying the nature of the services to be provided, the project timeline, expected deliverables, and performance standards.

There are several features that distinguish a PSA:

  • Limited duration: Unlike employment contracts which can be open-ended, a PSA is usually for a defined period of time, corresponding to the completion of the project or task.

  • Specialized service: A PSA is often used when the client requires a particular expertise or service that they do not have in-house. This could be anything from cyber-security consulting to configuring a CRM tool.

  • Contractor status: The service provider under a PSA is usually an independent contractor rather than an employee. This means the client is not responsible for benefits like health insurance, retirement contributions, etc. This also often implies that the service provider has a greater degree of control over their work methods compared to an employee.

  • Payment structure: Payment under a PSA is typically structured differently from a standard employment agreement. It could be based on achieving certain milestones, on an hourly rate, or a fixed fee for the project.

  • Confidentiality and Intellectual Property (IP): PSAs often include provisions protecting the client’s confidential information and specifying who owns the intellectual property created during the course of the project.

  • Risk allocation: PSAs often include provisions that allocate risk between the parties, such as indemnification blocks (where one party agrees to cover certain losses of the other) and limitation of liability clauses (which limit the amount one party can be required to pay the other in case of a breach of the agreement or other issue).

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In a Professional Services Agreement (PSA), the parties typically involved are the client and the service provider.

  1. Client: The client, also sometimes known as customer, is the party that seeks the services. The client is responsible for providing a clear scope of work for the project and for paying the service provider according to the terms of the agreement.

  2. Service Provider: The service provider, also referred to as the contractor, vendor, or consultant, is the party offering the professional services. This could be an individual consultant, a consultancy firm, a tech company, or any other entity with specialized knowledge or expertise. The service provider is responsible for providing the agreed-upon services according to the terms outlined in the PSA.

Background / recitals

Preamble sections provide insight into the context and objectives of the Professional Services Agreement (PSA). While they’re not a legal requirement and do not have direct legal implications, they can be incredibly helpful in clarifying the interpretation of the agreement’s operative provisions in the event of a dispute.

PSAs generally outline essential preamble elements relevant to any professional services. Considering the unique nature and terms of the agreement, the parties may choose to incorporate more comprehensive details or opt to exclude some of the basic preamble elements.


The Professional Services Agreement will generally start by confirming the engagement of the service provider and addressing standards for the services being provided:

  • Engagement: This is where the client officially hires the service provider and where the service provider accepts the engagement.

  • Standards: In a Professional Services Agreement (PSA), the part that deals with the standards against which the services will be measured is often referred to as “Performance Standards” or “Service Standards”. This part is critical because it sets the expectations for the level of service to be provided. The PSA will typically provide that the service provider must provide the services:
    • In a timely, professional and efficient manner: This means that the service provider is expected to deliver the services within the agreed-upon timeframe (timely), with a level of skill, care, and conduct expected of a professional in their field (professional), and without unnecessary delays or waste of resources (efficient).
    • In accordance with applicable laws: The service provider is expected to comply with all relevant laws and regulations while delivering the services. This includes federal, state, and local laws, as well as any industry-specific regulations that apply to the services being provided.
    • In accordance with Good Industry Practice: This means that the service provider is expected to perform their duties to a standard that is commonly accepted within their industry. This standard is typically based on what a reasonably prudent practitioner would do under similar circumstances. This may include adhering to established guidelines, using reliable and proven techniques, and keeping up-to-date with advancements in the field.

Good Industry Practice is often a defined term in the PSA, meaning that it will have a specific definition within the agreement. The exact definition can vary based on the industry, the nature of the services, and the specific agreement between the parties.

It’s important to give careful consideration to the definition of Good Industry Practice in the agreement. It needs to be realistic and attainable, given the nature of the services and the capabilities of the service provider. At the same time, it needs to ensure a high enough standard of work to meet the client’s needs. If the definition is too vague or too stringent, it could lead to disagreements or disputes down the line.

Primary Blocks

Limitation of liability

[View the detailed guide on limitation of liability provisions ↗]

Imagine a client engaging a consulting firm under a Professional Services Agreement to assist with a major business restructuring, intending to improve the client’s efficiency and profitability. The agreement might stipulate that the consulting firm will provide its expert advice, create and deliver a restructuring plan, and support its implementation over a six-month period.

In this agreement, there might be a limitation of liability block that reads something like this:

“Under no circumstances shall the consulting firm be liable for any indirect, special, consequential, or punitive damages, including lost profits, arising from or relating to this agreement. The consulting firm’s total liability under this agreement shall not exceed the amount paid by the client for the services under this agreement.”

Now, suppose the consulting firm delivers its restructuring plan, and the client begins implementing it. However, the expected profitability improvements don’t materialize as quickly as the client had hoped; worse, the restructuring leads to heavy losses for the business. The client might be disappointed and consider legal action against the consulting firm for the perceived failure of the project.

The limitation of liability block comes into play here. Even if the client were to succeed in a claim against the consulting firm (which would also depend on many other factors, such as whether the consulting firm fulfilled its contractual obligations), the block limits the consulting firm’s liability. The consulting firm would not be responsible for indirect or consequential damages (like lost profits from the slower-than-expected improvement), and its total liability would be capped at the amount the client paid for the services.

This example demonstrates how a limitation of liability clause can protect a service provider from potentially significant financial exposure. However, the specific terms and implications of such clauses can vary widely depending on the exact wording of the clause and the jurisdiction’s legal standards. It’s always advisable to consult with a legal professional when interpreting or drafting these types of provisions.


Therefore, a limitation of liability block plays a crucial role for the service provider, aiding in managing risk and potential financial exposure emanating from the agreement.

Here are a couple of reasons a service provider would want to include a limitation of liability block:

  • Protection from excessive financial liability: Delivering professional services can involve complexities with many potential risks and unexpected challenges. A limitation of liability block protects service providers from extreme financial liability, which could be catastrophic should a significant issue arise, such as a breach of data during a cybersecurity service.
  • Allocation of risk: By incorporating a limitation of liability block into the agreement, service providers can allocate risk between themselves and the client equitably. This helps to ensure that the service provider is not exclusively responsible for all potential issues that might surface during the execution of the services.
  • Predictability: Understanding the maximum extent of their liability enables service providers to strategize and manage their finances more proficiently. This level of predictability aids them in making sound decisions about their business and resource allocation.
  • Focus on core competencies: By limiting their liability, service providers can concentrate on their core competencies and work more efficiently, knowing that they have a safeguard in place to protect them from excessive claims.


[View the detailed guide on indemnities ↗]

Imagine an IT consulting firm is contracted under a Professional Services Agreement to design and implement a comprehensive cyber security plan for a business.

In the PSA, there could be an indemnity block stating something along the lines of:

“The IT consulting firm agrees to indemnify and hold the client harmless from any and all claims, damages, liabilities, and costs, including reasonable attorney fees, arising from any third-party claims that the software provided by the consulting firm infringes on the intellectual property rights of a third party.”

Now, suppose after the plan is implemented, a third-party cyber security firm alleges that the plan provided by the IT consulting firm was stolen from them. They then sue the business for company for damages.

In this instance, the indemnity block would come into play. Even though the business is the one being sued, the IT consulting firm would be required to step in and cover the costs and potential damages. This is because the claim is alleging that the plan the IT consulting firm provided, which was part of their service under the agreement, is infringing.

Therefore, in the landscape of Professional Services Agreements (PSAs), indemnity blocks play a pivotal role for the client. These blocks help manage risk, shield against potential liabilities, and provide a roadmap for handling unforeseen issues that may arise during the delivery of the services. Here’s a couple of indemnities a client might want to consider including in the PSA:

  • Intellectual Property infringement: Indemnities for third-party intellectual property infringement claims are key to protecting the client from potential legal complications if the services provided infringe on existing patents, copyrights, trademarks, or trade secrets. For example, if a consulting firm inadvertently uses a patented business model in their strategy advice, the indemnity block protects the client from financial liability stemming from a third-party infringement lawsuit.
  • Data breach: In today’s digital age, data breaches and unauthorized data access are significant concerns. Including indemnities that address the repercussions of a data breach or unauthorized access caused by the service provider’s negligence can protect the client from financial losses and reputation damage. Suppose a provider’s negligence leads to a security vulnerability during a cybersecurity audit, resulting in a data breach at the client’s end. In that case, the indemnity block would obligate the service provider to bear the costs associated with the breach, such as legal fees, regulatory fines, and customer notifications.
  • Third-party claims: Engagements with other parties, such as subcontractors or third-party service providers, are common in professional services scenarios. Indemnities against third-party claims can shield the client from financial liability if a third party alleges that the service provider’s actions caused harm or loss. For instance, if a service provider breaches a contract with a subcontractor, leading to a lawsuit against the client, the indemnity block would require the service provider to cover the client’s legal expenses and any damages awarded.


[View the detailed guide on termination provisions ↗]

Change in regulatory environment example

Suppose a data analytics consulting firm has been engaged by a healthcare provider under a Professional Services Agreement to analyze patient data and improve service delivery. The agreement contains a termination block which addresses changes in regulatory environments. This block might read something like this:

“The Agreement may be terminated by either Party, upon written notice, if changes in applicable laws or regulations make the provision or receipt of the Services under this Agreement materially more burdensome or if it becomes unlawful for the Provider to continue offering the Services.”

Now, imagine that a new data privacy regulation is enacted six months into the agreement, which imposes stringent restrictions on the transfer and processing of patient data. This change makes it much more difficult for the consulting firm to perform its duties under the agreement. It also increases the potential liability for the healthcare provider in the event of a data breach.

In this scenario, the termination block would come into play. Given the increased burdens and potential liability arising from the change in law, either the consulting firm or the healthcare provider could choose to invoke the termination block and end the agreement in accordance with its terms. This could include providing notice of termination, settling any outstanding payments for services already rendered, and coordinating the return or destruction of any sensitive data.

Termination for convenience example

Suppose a technology consulting firm has been contracted by a financial institution under a Professional Services Agreement to advise on implementing new IT infrastructure over two years. In the agreement, there’s a clause allowing for termination for convenience, which might read something like this:

“Either Party may terminate this Agreement at any time, for any reason or for no reason, upon thirty (30) days’ written notice to the other Party.”

Now, let’s say eight months into the project, the financial institution undergoes a merger with another company. This merger leads to a strategic decision to shift towards a different IT infrastructure, making the ongoing project with the technology consulting firm unnecessary.

In this scenario, the termination for convenience block would be activated. The financial institution can send a written notice to the consulting firm indicating their intention to terminate the agreement in 30 days. After the notice period expires, the agreement ends.

The agreement might also dictate how the consulting firm is compensated in the event of such termination. Typically, they would be paid for the work completed up to the termination date and potentially some form of termination fee, depending on the specific terms agreed upon.

Therefore, incorporating termination provisions in Professional Services Agreements (PSAs) is essential for numerous reasons. These provisions deliver a defined framework for handling potential concerns, safeguarding the interests of all parties involved, and ensuring a systematic and amicable resolution to the professional relationship. Some of the critical reasons to incorporate termination provisions in PSAs include the following:

  • Clarity and predictability: Termination provisions delineate the circumstances under which the agreement can be terminated and the necessary processes to follow. This clarity aids both parties in understanding their rights, responsibilities, and expectations, reducing the risk of confusion and disagreements.
  • Protecting interests: Termination provisions help to safeguard the interests of both parties in case of contract breaches, inadequate performance, or alterations in project requirements. For instance, a client may want to terminate an agreement if the consultant fails to meet specified deadlines or quality standards. Conversely, a service provider may wish to conclude the contract if the client neglects to make timely payments or fails to provide necessary resources.
  • Flexibility: Provisions allowing for termination for convenience bring flexibility into the business relationship, offering options for both parties to leave the agreement if circumstances change or if the partnership is no longer advantageous. For example, a client may need to terminate the contract due to a change in their business strategy, while a consultant might wish to end the agreement due to new opportunities or resource limitations.
  • Risk management: Termination provisions assist in managing risks associated with professional service projects, which can be unpredictable and subject to various challenges. By setting clear termination criteria, both parties can limit potential damages and losses in case of project failure or unexpected complications.
  • Facilitating smooth transitions: Termination provisions often encompass requirements for transition assistance, such as the transfer of intellectual property, project documents, or training materials. These provisions ensure that both parties can efficiently disengage from the agreement, minimizing disruptions to ongoing operations and facilitating a more seamless transition to new arrangements or service providers.
  • Legal compliance: Termination provisions can accommodate changes in legal or regulatory environments, allowing parties to terminate the agreement if compliance becomes impossible or overly challenging. For instance, if new data privacy regulations impede a consultant’s ability to continue providing services, a termination provision can offer a termination strategy for both parties.

In conclusion, termination provisions in PSAs play a crucial role in risk management, interest protection, and providing a clear framework for navigating potential challenges or alterations in the professional relationship.


[View the detailed guide on warranties ↗]

As an example, consider a PSA where a cybersecurity consulting firm provides services to a client to strengthen their network security. The warranty provision in the agreement might specify that the firm warrants that its services will be performed in accordance with generally accepted industry standards. Later, it becomes apparent that the cybersecurity consulting firm recommended measures and processes not in line with accepted industry standards and as a result the client is now exposed to numerous vulnerabilities.  The warranties block might specify that the consulting firm is obligated to again provide the service at no additional cost or refund the client for the faulty service, thereby protecting the client and ensuring quality service delivery.

In the context of Professional Services Agreements (PSAs), the inclusion of warranty provisions is just as crucial as they play a significant role in managing potential risks, setting clear expectations, and ensuring the successful delivery of the contracted services. Here are some key reasons why warranty provisions are important in a PSA:

  • Quality assurance: Warranty provisions in a PSA provide an assurance to the client that the services rendered will meet specified quality standards and performance metrics. This confidence promotes a healthy and collaborative relationship between the service provider and the client.
  • Clear performance expectations: Warranty provisions set a clear performance benchmark for the services rendered under the PSA. It ensures that both parties understand and agree on the minimum acceptable level of service performance, thereby minimizing potential disputes over the quality or timeliness of the delivered services.
  • Defined remedies: Warranty provisions delineate the remedies available in case the services fail to meet the agreed-upon standards or performance metrics. Remedies can range from redoing the work, to discounts, or in some extreme cases, a complete refund. Having such remedies defined upfront helps expedite resolution and avoid prolonged disputes.
  • Risk allocation: Warranty provisions in a PSA help in allocating risks between the service provider and the client. The service provider assumes responsibility for delivering services that meet specified requirements, while the client has a responsibility to clearly define those requirements. This shared risk allocation establishes a fair and transparent business relationship.
  • Legal protection: Warranty provisions offer legal protection to both parties in the event of disagreements or breaches. If a dispute arises, the warranty terms can be referred to determine each party’s responsibilities and the appropriate course of action to resolve the issue.
  • Enhancing reputation: For service providers, offering warranties can enhance their professional reputation, signifying a commitment to quality and client satisfaction. This can build trust and potentially generate more business opportunities.

In conclusion, warranty provisions in a PSA play a vital role in managing potential risks, setting clear performance expectations, defining remedies, allocating risks, providing legal protection, and enhancing the service provider’s reputation. Including well-drafted warranty provisions in PSAs helps form a solid foundation for a successful project and a robust business relationship between the parties involved.

Intellectual property

[View the detailed guide on intellectual property ↗]

As an example, consider a PSA, where a marketing agency provides branding services to a client. The IP clause in the agreement might stipulate that the client will own all rights to the new brand identity created by the agency during the engagement (assigned deliverables), while the agency retains ownership of their pre-existing methodologies, design templates, and tools (background IP). If the agency also provides a proprietary analytics software to track the brand performance as part of the service (licensed deliverable), the agency would retain ownership of this software but grant the client a license to use it as per the agreement’s terms.

Therefore, incorporating intellectual property (IP) blocks in a Professional Services Agreement (PSA) is of significant importance as these blocks help to clarify ownership, safeguard the interests of both parties, regulate proper usage and control of IP, and furnish a basis for dispute resolution.

  • Ownership and control: IP blocks in a PSA delineate the ownership and control over intellectual property rights pertaining to the deliverables of the contracted services. Usually, the client gains ownership of all IP rights for the specific output created during the service provision, while the service provider retains the rights to their pre-existing IP. For certain deliverables, the service provider may retain ownership and grant the client a license to use the deliverable in accordance with the PSA’s terms.
  • Protection of interests: Clearly defined IP blocks protect the interests of both the service provider and the client. The client’s interests are safeguarded as they obtain the necessary rights to use and benefit from the services to meet their business objectives. The service provider’s interests are secured by maintaining ownership of their pre-existing IP and the ability to use, license, or modify their IP for other clients or projects.
  • Proper use and commercialization: IP blocks in a PSA allow for the proper use and commercialization of the service deliverables. For instance, when the client has rights to specific service outputs, they can use, modify, or sell these outputs without restrictions. In scenarios where the deliverables are licensed, the client can use them according to the license’s terms, while the service provider retains the ability to license the service deliverables to other clients or use them for their own projects.
  • Dispute resolution: IP blocks can also aid in resolving disputes pertaining to the ownership and usage of intellectual property. A well-drafted agreement can facilitate a clear understanding of the rights and responsibilities of each party, thereby reducing the likelihood of disputes. If a disagreement occurs, the provisions can act as a basis for dispute resolution, potentially sidestepping expensive legal battles.

In summary, incorporating intellectual property clauses in a PSA is critical for establishing ownership, protecting the interests of both parties, ensuring proper use and commercialization, and providing a basis for dispute resolution.


[View the detailed guide on confidentiality ↗]

Including confidentiality blocks in a Professional Services Agreement (PSA) is of utmost importance for several reasons. These blocks shield sensitive data, maintain competitive benefits, safeguard intellectual property rights, and foster trust and cooperation between the concerned parties. Here are some reasons why confidentiality blocks are vital in a PSA:

  • Protection of sensitive data: Professional services often necessitate the exchange of sensitive information such as strategic plans, client data, trade secrets, financial reports, and proprietary methodologies. Confidentiality blocks mandate both parties to legally safeguard this critical data from unauthorized exposure or misuse, hence mitigating the risk of potential damage or inappropriate application.
  • Maintaining competitive advantage: A firm’s competitive position often hinges on the confidentiality of its unique services, processes, and strategies. By incorporating confidentiality blocks in a PSA, parties can assure that their distinctive knowledge and innovations remain confidential, helping to sustain their competitive edge in the market.
  • Safeguarding intellectual property rights: Confidentiality blocks can help protect the intellectual property rights of both parties involved in the professional services agreement. These blocks can specify the ownership of any newly created methodologies or strategies, as well as the rights and obligations concerning the use and disclosure of existing intellectual property.
  • Trust and collaboration: Confidentiality blocks aid in fostering trust and collaboration between the parties involved in the professional services process. By committing to safeguard each other’s confidential data, both parties can confidently exchange ideas, insights, and expertise, fostering an environment conducive to innovation and success.
  • Legal recourse in case of breach: In case of a breach of a confidentiality block, the aggrieved party can seek legal recourse, including damages and injunctive relief, to address the harm inflicted by the unauthorized disclosure or misuse of confidential information. This provision strengthens the security for both parties and reinforces the significance of abiding by confidentiality obligations.

In conclusion, incorporating confidentiality clauses in a PSA is essential for shielding sensitive data, maintaining competitive benefits, safeguarding intellectual property rights, fostering trust and collaboration, and providing legal recourse in case of a breach. These clauses ensure a successful and secure execution of professional services for both parties involved.

Dispute resolution

[View the detailed guide on dispute resolution ↗]

Incorporating a dispute resolution block in a Professional Services Agreement (PSA) is vital for a multitude of reasons. It helps to establish a lucid framework for resolving conflicts that might crop up during the course of the project, assuring that both parties are aware of their rights and obligations in case of a disagreement. Here are some key reasons why including a dispute resolution clause is crucial in a PSA:

  • Clarity and predictability: A dispute resolution block outlines the process to be followed if a conflict arises between the parties, such as a contract violation, intellectual property disputes, or disagreements over the scope of work. This clarity helps parties understand the actions to be taken in the event of a dispute, mitigating confusion and enabling a more efficient resolution.
  • Cost and time savings: Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods, such as mediation and arbitration, are usually quicker and less costly than traditional court litigation. By stipulating an ADR method in the dispute resolution clause, parties can save time and resources by sidestepping prolonged court trials and focusing on resolving the conflict through a more streamlined process.
  • Confidentiality: ADR methods like mediation and arbitration typically ensure greater confidentiality than court litigation. Including a dispute resolution clause that prescribes the use of an ADR method can aid in protecting sensitive information, such as trade secrets, proprietary methodologies, or confidential business strategies, from public exposure during the dispute resolution process.
  • Control over the process: A dispute resolution block allows parties to customize the dispute resolution process according to their specific needs, such as choosing the governing law, location of dispute resolution, and the qualifications of the mediator or arbitrator. This adaptability allows the parties to select a process that is most compatible with the nature of the professional services agreement and their specific requirements.
  • Preservation of business relationships: ADR methods are generally less combative than litigation, focusing on cooperative problem-solving and achieving a mutually agreeable resolution. By including a dispute resolution clause that encourages negotiation, mediation, or arbitration, parties can strive to resolve disputes amicably, thus preserving their business relationships.
  • Enforceability: A dispute resolution block can help ascertain that any decision or settlement attained through the dispute resolution process is enforceable in court. This provides both parties with increased certainty and confidence in the outcome of the dispute resolution process.

In conclusion, including a dispute resolution clause in a PSA is essential for establishing a clear and efficient process for handling disputes that might arise during the course of the project. By outlining the agreed-upon dispute resolution method, parties can reduce confusion, save time and resources, protect sensitive information, and ultimately work toward a fair and satisfactory resolution of any disputes that might arise.

Force majeure

[View the detailed guide on force majeure ↗]

Consider the example of a Professional Services Agreement (PSA) between a marketing consultancy firm (Service Provider) and a consumer goods company (Client). The consultancy is contracted to provide a year-long marketing campaign, which includes organizing multiple public events to promote the Client’s new product line.

The force majeure clause in the PSA might read as follows:

“Neither Party shall be liable for any failure or delay in performance under this Agreement for causes beyond that Party’s reasonable control and occurring without that Party’s fault or negligence, including, but not limited to, acts of God, acts of government, flood, fire, civil unrest, acts of terror, strikes or other labor problems (other than one involving the employees or subcontractors of the Party seeking the protection of this clause), or computer intrusions, or denial of service attacks. In the event of a declared force majeure, the Party affected will give prompt written notice to the other and will use commercially reasonable efforts to minimize the impact of the event.”

Now, suppose a significant part of the marketing campaign involved organizing public events. Still, due to a sudden and severe pandemic (a force majeure event beyond the control of either party), public gatherings were banned by the government. In this case, the consultancy firm could invoke the force majeure clause, as the unforeseen event has made it impossible to perform their obligations under the agreement.

According to the clause, the firm would be required to notify the client promptly of the force majeure event, explain the impact on their ability to perform, and propose an alternative solution if possible (such as virtual events or digital marketing campaigns). This ensures business continuity to the best extent possible, and the consultancy firm is shielded from liability for the inability to perform the original agreed services due to the force majeure event.

Moreover, if the pandemic continues for an extended period, rendering the public events impracticable or commercially unfeasible for the remainder of the year, the force majeure clause might also provide an avenue for either party to terminate the agreement, offering flexibility in response to the unforeseen circumstances.

Therefor, including a force majeure block in Professional Services Agreements (PSAs) is pivotal due to the diverse risks and uncertainties that can emerge in the dynamic field of professional services. These provisions help oversee the parties’ rights and obligations in the event of unexpected circumstances beyond their control, which may impact their capacity to fulfil the agreement. Here are several reasons why embedding force majeure provisions in PSAs is significant:

  • Risk distribution: Force majeure provisions distribute the risks related to unexpected events between the parties, ensuring that neither party is unduly penalized for conditions beyond their control. This cultivates a fair and balanced contractual relationship and aids in maintaining a healthy professional relationship between the parties.
  • Legal safeguard: In the face of a force majeure event, these provisions provide legal safeguard to the affected party, shielding them from responsibility for non-performance or delayed performance of their contractual duties.
  • Explicit expectations: By detailing the parties’ rights and responsibilities during force majeure events, these provisions establish explicit expectations for how such instances will be managed. This decreases the likelihood of conflicts and helps maintain the equilibrium of the contractual relationship.
  • Business continuity: Force majeure provisions usually include obligations for the impacted party to mitigate the effects of the event, such as devising alternative solutions or deploying contingency plans. This ensures business continuity for both parties and diminishes the negative consequences of unanticipated disruptions.
  • Termination rights: In situations where a force majeure event persists for an extended period or makes performance impossible or commercially impracticable, these provisions may permit the termination of the agreement. This provides both parties an exit strategy, enabling them to reassess their options and seek alternative arrangements if necessary.


In conclusion, including force majeure provisions in PSAs is essential for managing risks and uncertainties inherent in the professional services industry. These provisions help protect both parties from liability, define expectations, assure business continuity, and offer flexibility and termination rights in the face of unexpected events. By incorporating well-crafted force majeure provisions, parties can nurture a more resilient and successful contractual relationship.

Secondary Blocks

Time is of the essence

View the detailed guide on time is of the essence provisions ↗

In a Professional Services Agreement (PSA), a “time is of the essence” clause sets clear expectations that deadlines and timelines for the provision of services are not merely target dates, but mandatory deadlines that are critical to the contract.

Failure to meet these deadlines can be considered a “material” breach of the contract, potentially resulting in severe consequences such as the termination of the contract or refund of payments made.

For example, suppose a tech company is hired to configure custom software system for a retailer, with the launch scheduled ahead of the peak holiday shopping season. The PSA might include a “time is of the essence” clause to emphasize that the software must be ready by the agreed-upon date. If the tech company fails to configure the software on time, the retailer could potentially terminate the contract and seek a refund, as the delay could cause significant losses due to missed holiday sales. This clause ensures both parties understand the critical importance of the timelines and sets the stage for potential legal remedies if the deadlines aren’t met.

Customer delays

[View the detailed guide on customer delays ↗]

The Customer delays block in a contract explains what happens and what actions to take if a customer’s actions, or lack thereof, cause the project to slow down. These provisions help protect the service provider from any harm caused by customer delays and ensure that both sides understand what to expect in such situations.

Customer equipment

[View the detailed guide on customer equipment↗]

Including a Customer Equipment block in a professional services agreement is critical for clearly defining the responsibilities and expectations associated with using and upkeep client-provided equipment.


Business continuity

[View the detailed guide on business continuity ↗]

Including a business continuity block in a professional services agreement may assist in safeguarding operational stability in the face of unexpected disruptions or disasters. In the world of professional services, unexpected events, such as power outages, natural disasters, or cyber-attacks, can significantly hinder the provision of services or even halt the development process.

Having a business continuity block ensures that the service provider has established procedures to maintain and promptly restore service functionality amidst such disruptions. Furthermore, it helps to delineate clear responsibilities and expectations while promoting trust between contracting parties.

Exit plan

[View the detailed guide on exit plans ↗]

An exit plan block in a professional services agreement is crucial as it paves the way for a smooth transition should the relationship between the client and the service provider come to an end.

For instance, consider a scenario where a healthcare company (the client) hires a consulting firm to advise on creating a patient management system. Over time, if the healthcare company decides to switch to another provider, an exit plan block in the initial agreement helps mitigate any potential disruption to services or loss of critical data during the transition period. It outlines clear steps for transferring documentation, data, and any related intellectual property, as well as details about training the new team or maintaining service levels during the transition.

Without such a block, the healthcare company might face significant operational challenges, including loss of vital patient data, or even legal issues related to intellectual property rights. Thus, including an exit plan block provides both parties with a clear roadmap and mitigates risks during the termination process.

Non-solicitation of key personnel

[View the detailed guide on non-solicitation of key employees ↗]

A non-solicitation of key employee block incorporated into professional services agreements aims to deter one party from trying to hire or recruit the other party’s essential personnel during the contract period or for a predetermined time following its conclusion. These provisions aim to safeguard the interests of both parties involved in the project and ensure the continued stability of their respective businesses.


[View the detailed guide on sub-contracting ↗]

This block outlines the terms and conditions under which a party can engage third-party contractors or subcontractors to perform specific tasks or parts of the project. It may include requirements for notifying and obtaining approval from the other party and may define the primary contractor’s liability for the work of the subcontractor.

Financial stability

[View the detailed guide on financial stability ↗]

This block refers to the financial health of the parties involved in the project. It may require each party to maintain a certain level of financial stability to ensure the project’s successful completion and mitigate risks associated with insolvency or financial distress.


[View the detailed guide on audits ↗]

An audit block allows one party to inspect and review the other party’s records, processes, and systems related to the project. This is done to ensure compliance with the agreement, identify issues or discrepancies, and verify the quality of work. The block may specify the frequency, scope, and requirements for conducting audits.


[View the detailed guide on benchmarking ↗]

This block allows a party to benchmark the other party’s rates against industry standards and provides certain rights to the party requiring the benchmark if the other party’s rates deviate beyond an agreed percentage.


[View the detailed guide on insurance ↗]

This block requires the parties to maintain adequate insurance coverage to protect against potential risks and liabilities arising from the project. It may specify the types and minimum amounts of insurance, such as professional liability, general liability, or cyber liability insurance.


[View the detailed guide on step-in rights ↗]

Step-in rights allow a party to temporarily take over the management and control of the project or specific tasks in certain circumstances, such as the other party’s default, insolvency, or breach of the agreement. This block helps to ensure the project’s continuity and mitigate risks associated with the other party’s inability to perform.

Compliance with laws and regulations

[View the detailed guide on compliance with laws ↗]

This block requires the parties to adhere to all applicable laws, regulations, and industry standards related to the project. This may include data protection laws, intellectual property laws, and employment laws. It ensures that the project’s execution is compliant with the relevant legal requirements.


[View the detailed guide on boilerplate ↗]

Boilerplate bocks, while often considered standard, play a vital role in shaping the overall legal framework of a contract. As such, it is imperative to give these provisions careful consideration and ensure they align with the parties’ intentions and objectives. Neglecting the importance of boilerplate block can lead to unforeseen consequences and potential litigation.


Project schedule

[View the detailed guide on the project schedule ↗]

In a Professional Services Agreement (PSA) between a business consulting firm and a company seeking organizational restructuring, the project schedule may list detailed tasks like initial company assessment, employee interviews, data analysis, strategy development, presentation of recommendations, implementation planning, and post-implementation review. Each of these tasks may have set deadlines, clearly defined deliverables, and specified dependencies, ensuring a structured approach towards the organizational restructuring project.

Therefore, a project schedule serves as a vital roadmap that outlines essential tasks, milestones, and deadlines related to the services being provided. This schedule is an integral part of the contract as it allows both the client and the service provider to manage expectations, allocate resources, track progress, and ensure the successful execution of the project.

The project schedule for a PSA typically incorporates the following elements:

  • Professional service phases: These represent the overarching stages of the professional service project. For example, in a management consulting project, phases might include an initial assessment, research and data analysis, strategy development, implementation planning, and execution support.
  • Milestones: Major events or checkpoints in the project that signify the completion of certain tasks or goals. For instance, in a software design project, milestones could include the completion of initial wireframes, finalizing the scope or obtaining necessary third-party licenses.
  • Tasks and deliverables: An enumeration of specific activities and their corresponding outputs that need to be accomplished as part of each milestone in the project.
  • Client dependencies: Dependencies between tasks that indicate how the completion of one task influences the start or end date of another task within the project. For example, in a marketing consultancy project, developing a marketing strategy (performed by the consultancy) might depend on the client providing comprehensive information about their target market and business objectives.

Data protection schedule

[View the detailed guide on data protection ↗]

A data protection schedule should be included in a professional services agreement whenever the service provider will have access to, or will be processing, personal data on behalf of their client (the data controller).

This could occur, for example, when the service provider needs to work with customer data to build or test the software or if the software will transmit or store personal data once it’s in use.

The inclusion of a data protection schedule is important because it establishes the specific obligations and responsibilities of both parties in relation to data protection, ensuring that personal data is handled securely and in accordance with applicable data protection laws.

This helps to protect the privacy rights of individuals, mitigate the risk of data breaches, and maintain trust between the data controller and processor, while also helping both parties to avoid legal penalties for non-compliance with data protection regulations.

Change control

[View the detailed guide on change control ↗]

Including a Change Control Schedule in a professional services agreement is essential for several reasons.

First, it establishes a structured process to manage changes that inevitably arise in the lifecycle of projects. Such changes can impact project timelines, costs, functionality, and overall project outcomes. Without a formalized process, handling changes can be chaotic and lead to misunderstandings, disagreements, or even legal disputes.

Second, the schedule provides predictability and transparency, ensuring both parties are on the same page regarding how proposed changes will be evaluated, approved, and implemented.

Lastly, it facilitates efficient communication and cooperation between the parties, fostering a more collaborative relationship. By defining this process in the contract, it helps maintain the integrity of the original agreement while allowing for the flexibility needed in dynamic projects like software development.

Project management

[View the detailed guide on the project management schedule ↗]

The inclusion of a project management block with parts relating to the steering committee and working groups in a professional services agreement is crucial to establish clarity in decision-making, accountability, and project execution.

The steering committee, composed of high-level stakeholders, provides strategic oversight, handles important decisions, and facilitates resolution of major issues, thereby contributing to the smooth progress and success of the project.

Working groups, on the other hand, are typically responsible for executing specific tasks within the project, promoting efficiency and specialization. Clearly defining these entities and their responsibilities in the agreement ensures that all parties understand who is responsible for what, which helps prevent misunderstandings, enhances coordination, and contributes to efficient project management.

Personnel schedule

[View the detailed guide on the project schedule ↗]

Including a personnel schedule in a professional services agreement is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, it provides transparency and clarity regarding the key individuals who will be involved in the project. By listing their positions, names, and roles, both parties have a clear understanding of the expertise and responsibilities of each team member. This helps to establish expectations and accountability.

Secondly, the personnel schedule allows the client to assess the suitability of the assigned personnel for the project. They can review the qualifications and experience of the individuals and ensure they align with their specific needs. Additionally, the personnel schedule helps to mitigate risks associated with personnel changes. If a team member needs to be replaced, the schedule ensures that the client has the right to approve a suitable replacement, maintaining the desired level of expertise and minimizing disruption to the project.

Overall, the personnel schedule provides a structured framework for effective communication, resource allocation, and project management, promoting successful collaboration between the software development company and the client.

Performance guarantees

[View the detailed guide on a performance guarantee schedule ↗]

In the context of a professional services agreement, a performance guarantee can serve as a crucial safeguard to ensure the successful completion of a project. It’s particularly important when the service provider is a subsidiary of a larger parent company, and there’s a risk that the service provider may not be able to fulfill its obligations due to financial or operational difficulties.

A performance guarantee might be required at the start of the project, especially when the project involves a significant investment, high levels of complexity, or long completion timelines. It assures the client that if the service provider fails to deliver the deliverables as per the agreed specifications, timelines, or quality standards, the parent company will step in to ensure the completion of the project or provide financial compensation. The performance guarantee thus acts as a form of risk mitigation for the client, increasing the overall confidence in the project’s successful execution.

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