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Consulting Agreement

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A consulting agreement is a contract between a company and a consultant, defining the services provided and their respective terms. It specifies the kind of the task to be done, the payment schedule, and other crucial criteria for both parties. Let's find out more below regarding a consulting agreement's crucial components.

What is a Consulting Agreement?

A consulting agreement is a contractual document that describes a working relationship between a business and a consultant providing that company with their services. Other terms that are used to refer to a consulting agreement include:

The consulting agreement explains the terms of the professional relationship as a method for keeping both parties accountable when it comes to the type of work and compensation expected. Having a consulting agreement when contracting the services of an outside advisor or specialist is a standard part of running a business and helps protect your company from possible disputes.

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Steps to Create a Consulting Agreement

Some consultants may present you with a consulting contract first, especially if they are part of a consulting firm that takes on a high volume of clients. However, you may want or need to create a consulting agreement from scratch to suit the needs of your company.

  1. Use a Template. You can find a standard legal boilerplate online to start as a base for your consulting agreement. If you choose to use a template, make sure you understand what each clause means so that you don't inadvertently agree to unfavorable contract terms. Consider adjusting an existing template to create a custom form that you can use for future consulting needs. You can also hire an expert to draft a custom legal contract for you.
  2. Decide on a Project Timeline. Agreeing on deadlines is one of the key functions of a consulting agreement, so it is important to set a reasonable start date, check-in dates, and project completion dates before reaching out to consultants. Look at past projects to make an informed estimate of how long the project should take.
  3. Set Your Essential Terms. Your business might be flexible on some parts of the consulting relationship, but it is important to know ahead of time what requirements you will not budge on. Make a list of the most important contract clauses for protecting your business while moving forward with a project. Examples include:
    • Company ownership of any materials created during the consultation process
    • Weekly payment frequency
    • Contract nullification after a period of no contact
    • Minimum and maximum contract length
    • Number of deliverables needed
    • Equipment and materials provided for the consultant
  4. Research Terminology. As you fill out each section of the consulting agreement, look up any legal terms that you are unsure about or do not recognize. If necessary, ask for legal advice to ensure that you know what the jargon in your contract means.
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Parts of a Consulting Agreement

A standard consulting agreement will have several different clauses that summarize a range of contract details, including:

  • Start date and end date
  • Services being provided
  • Contact information for the consultant
  • Contact information for the business
  • Ownership of intellectual property
  • Compensation and fees
  • Termination procedures
  • Process for handling disputes
  • Expected communication channels
  • Confidentiality information
  • Liability
  • Noncompetition agreements
  • Indemnification
  • Reimbursement policies
  • Terms for enforcing the agreement legally
  • Signatures and initials acknowledging the agreement

Not all consulting agreements need all of these sections, but they provide a solid overview of the type of information that goes into securing a contract with a consultant. The more specific the contract is, the more guidance both the consultant and the company have when collaborating.

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Consulting Agreement Sample


This Consulting Agreement (the "Agreement") is entered into this [DATE] by and between [NAME OF CONSULTANT], an individual, ("Consultant") and [NAME OF COMPANY] (the "Company").


WHEREAS, the Company is in need of assistance in the [CONSULTING SERVICE AREA]; and

WHEREAS, Consultant has agreed to perform consulting work for the Company in providing [CONSULTING SERVICE AREA] and consulting services and other related activities as directed by the Company;

NOW, THEREFORE, the parties hereby agree as follows:

1. Consultant's Services. Consultant shall be available and shall provide to the Company professional consulting services in the area of [CONSULTING SERVICE AREA] ("Consulting services") as requested.

2. Consideration.

A. RATE. In consideration for the Consulting Services to be performed by Consultant under this Agreement, the Company will pay Consultant at the rate of [HOURLY RATE] per hour for time spent on Consulting Services. Consultant shall submit written, signed reports of the time spent performing Consulting Services, itemizing in reasonable detail the dates on which services were performed, the number of hours spent on such dates and a brief description of the services rendered. The Company shall pay Consultant the amounts due pursuant to submitted reports within [NUMBER OF DAYS] days after such reports are received by the Company.

B. EXPENSES. Additionally, the Company will pay Consultant for the following expenses incurred while the Agreement between Consultant and the Company exists:

- All travel expenses to and from all work sites

- Meal expenses;

- Administrative expenses;

- Lodging Expenses if work demands overnight stays; and

- Miscellaneous travel-related expenses (parking and tolls.)

Consultant shall submit written documentation and receipts where available itemizing the dates on which expenses were incurred. The Company shall pay Consultant the amounts due pursuant to submitted reports within [NUMBER OF DAYS] days after a report is received by the Company.

3. Independent Contractor. Nothing herein shall be construed to create an employer-employee relationship between the Company and Consultant. Consultant is an independent contractor and not an employee of the Company or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates. The consideration set forth in Section 2 shall be the sole consideration due Consultant for the services rendered hereunder. It is understood that the Company will not withhold any amounts for payment of taxes from the compensation of Consultant hereunder. Consultant will not represent to be or hold herself out as an employee of the Company.

4. Confidentiality. In the course of performing Consulting Services, the parties recognize that Consultant may come in contact with or become familiar with information which the Company or its subsidiaries or affiliates may consider confidential. This information may include, but is not limited to, information pertaining to the Company [CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION], which information may be of value to a competitor. Consultant agrees to keep all such information confidential and not to discuss or divulge it to anyone other than appropriate Company personnel or their designees.

5. Term. This Agreement shall commence [NUMBER OF DAYS] days before the beginning of each project, and shall terminate on the delivery of the [SERVICE DELIVERY DATE], unless earlier terminated by either party hereto. Either party may terminate this Agreement upon [NUMBER OF DAYS] days prior written notice.

6. Notice. Any notice or communication permitted or required by this Agreement shall be deemed effective when personally delivered or deposited, postage prepaid, in the first class mail of the United States, or international mail properly addressed to the appropriate party at the address set forth below:

1. Notices to Consultant: [CONSULTANT ADDRESS]

2. Notices to the Company: [COMPANY ADDRESS]

7. Miscellaneous.

7.1 Entire Agreement and Amendments. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement of the parties with regard to the subject matter hereof, and replaces and supersedes all other agreements or understandings, whether written or oral. No amendment or extension of the Agreement shall be binding unless in writing and signed by both parties.

7.2 Binding Effect, Assignment. This Agreement shall be binding upon and shall inure to the benefit of Consultant and the Company and to the Company's successors and assigns. Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to permit the assignment by Consultant of any of its rights or obligations hereunder, and such assignment is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of the Company.

7.3 Governing Law, Severability. This Agreement shall be governed by the laws of the State of [STATE]. The invalidity or unenforceability of any provision of the Agreement shall not affect the validity or enforceability of any other provision.

WHEREFORE, the parties have executed this Agreement as of the date first written above.






Documents to Use Alongside a Consulting Agreement

More complex business relationships could require more than just a consulting contract. You can supplement the consulting agreement by having the consultant sign one of these documents in conjunction with their primary contract:

  • Receipt of Employment Handbook : An employment handbook can outline behavioral expectations and HR procedures in more detail. Have contractors sign an acknowledgement that they will abide by workplace policies and expectations.
  • Non-solicitation Agreement : This contract restricts the consultant from working for your competitors or poaching your clients, customers, and staff for their own business.

Having a consulting agreement with each independent contractor can give you peace of mind that your company will run smoothly and according to plan. It keeps your outside employment organized and sets up consultants for success and seamless collaboration.

Types of Consultants

A consultant is an outside professional who provides expertise and advice to improve a business's operations in some way. They analyze current business behavior, identify areas for improvement, and develop a plan for improving that aspect of the company. Consultants may also train other staff members and oversee the implementation of new business tactics, evaluating the outcome and making adjustments as needed.

Consultants often specialize in a niche area of their market, using each business opportunity to build their expertise and apply it to improve best practices. Some of the different types of consultants you can hire to work for your business are:

  • IT Consultant: Businesses hire IT consultants to help optimize their tech support, internal networking, software, and web development.
  • Operations consultant: These specialists focus on your company's manufacturing and supply chain efficiency, finding ways to improve storage, delivery, and response times.
  • HR Consultant: As small companies grow, they rely on HR consultants to ensure that they are meeting their legal obligations as an employer while also developing a convenient and consistent onboarding system.
  • Financial Consultant: Consultants can also analyze company finances and find ways to pay down debt, cut costs, increase profits, and make investment plans for the long-term growth and financial health of the company.
  • Leadership Consultant: Career coaches and leadership consultants identify talented potential leaders with a focus on improving teamwork and coaching executives for leading high-performance projects.
  • Legal Consultant: Hiring a legal expert to consult on contracts and other legal situations helps protect your business from liability and gives you a technical perspective on your business.
  • Compliance Consultant: Compliance specialists have extensive knowledge of industry regulations and standards, which they use to assess company operations and recommend ways to meet those specifications.

Even within a certain field, consultants can specialize even further. For example, a digital marketing consulting firm could have consultants specializing in SEO coordination, social media advertising, affiliate marketing, and more.

When to Use a Consulting Agreement

Any time you're paying an outside candidate to work for your business, draw up a consulting agreement. While some people are used to verbal contracts, having a written record of the agreement keeps both parties accountable and ensures that an untrustworthy person doesn't accept payment without delivering their services appropriately.

Have your consultant sign a consulting agreement prior to hiring them for the job so that you can start off your professional relationship on the right foot. If problems arise later on, you can reference the consulting agreement for guidance.

Learn more about contractor law.

Benefits of Using a Consulting Agreement

Using a consulting agreement has several key benefits for businesses:

  • Setting clear expectations for quality
  • Determining a timeline
  • Establishing professional policies
  • Holding contractors accountable
  • Agreeing on a specific budget
  • Documenting your business relationships and expenses

Indemnification Clause in a Consulting Agreement

A consultant agreement is a contract between a business and a qualified consultant. In this kind of arrangement, the firm is referred to as the client, and the consultant is the expert vendor delivering particular services to the client, whether in the form of specialist advice or work being completed for the organization. The business typically requests an indemnification clause, which is a requirement of most consulting agreements, if not all of them.

  • Indemnification Clause: Large corporations typically include indemnification clauses in their contracts with consultants or consulting firms since they are likely to do so if they do so. In this context, indemnification refers to the consultant's commitment to defend the client if the client is sued due to the consultant's work. Furthermore, since the consultant has all control over the consulting job performed, it is only fair that the consulting expert or consulting firm holds the business harmless for any problems resulting from that specific activity.
  • Insurance Coverage: The indemnity provision is practically required because these liabilities might not be covered by insurance. In addition, some conditions demand that the consultant offer a defense to particular allegations that could be made against the company. This could imply that the consultant is financially liable for hiring a defense lawyer to represent the business and cover all related litigation-related costs. Most liability insurance policies don't offer this kind of protection for the defense of a third party. In opposition, general insurance for contractors will cover defense costs in the event of physical harm, death, or property damage. Hence, by accepting a contract that will protect the business in the event of legal action, the consultant will assume a huge risk that may cost the consultant a lot of money.
  • Unfairness in Indemnification Clause: Provided the consultant is taking on a huge risk in this aspect, there have been frequent concerns about whether such indemnification is fair to the consultant. For instance, engineering and architectural businesses are frequently compelled to sign contracts requiring them to take risks even when they have no control over the dangers. Since indemnity provisions can be so hazardous and complicated, engaging legal counsel when crafting such language is advantageous. Before signing the contract, make sure you comprehend the text completely. If one is performing consulting services for a large corporation, the clauses in the contract, especially the indemnification clause, may be written with excessive ambiguity.
  • Absence of Indemnification Clause: There are three choices in case of deadlock pertaining to the indemnity clause : removal of the indemnification clause from the contract, refusal to sign the contract, or modification of the indemnity clause. Removing the indemnification clause can put a risk on one’s company. It is hoped that no problems would ever occur that would force the company to shoulder the costs of legal action. However, if this does happen, one can't hold the consultant accountable because there was no indemnification clause in the contract. Altering the indemnity clause is another option. One can discuss the phrases and phrasing used in the indemnification section at length with the consulting professional.

Are Consulting Agreements Legally Binding?

Consulting agreements are binding contracts that can have legal consequences. The terms of a consulting agreement often have clauses that explain what to do if a dispute occurs and what actions the offended party could take. If you paid a consultant for work they didn't deliver, you could use the contract as evidence in small claims court to recover the money you lost.

If your contract violates local law, then you won't be able to enforce its terms, so it is smart to have a contract lawyer review any contract you give to a potential consultant or consulting firm. To give your consulting agreement additional legitimacy, have it notarized by a witness. This decreases the chance that the consultant could dispute the terms of the contract.

Final Thoughts on Consulting Agreements

Clients and consultants should spell out their rights and responsibilities in a consultation agreement before beginning a consulting project. The necessity of the hour is to move from rigid to flexible agreements as the consulting sector is continually being updated. To ensure that both parties to the contract benefit from the agreement, a balance must be found. If the client with whom the consulting agreement is being negotiated has the required negotiating power, that is another thing to take into account. If so, the consultant will act as a business agent and the consulting agreement's business conditions must be changed to reflect this. A third thing to look at is the consultant's name and address, as well as the consulting agreement company's name and address. An agreement for consulting benefits both the customer and the consultant. It covers every aspect of the services that must be provided within a specific time range, reducing the likelihood of misunderstandings.

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Consulting Agreement


Asked on Nov 8, 2023

What are common pitfalls in consulting agreements?

I am a business owner who is looking to hire a consultant to provide services for my company. I am currently in the process of drafting a consulting agreement and want to make sure I am aware of any potential pitfalls that could arise. I want to make sure that the agreement is fair to both parties and that all of our rights are properly protected.

Darryl S.

Answered Nov 17, 2023

Ownership of any intellectual property is often an issue that gets negotiated. Also the Indemnity provision.

Read 1 attorney answer>

Consulting Agreement

New Jersey

Asked on Oct 4, 2022

What to look for in a consulting agreement?

I have been given a consulting agreement to sign by a potential client and want to learn the things I should be looking for to make sure I am protected and not getting into a contract I dont' want to get into. Are there any terms that are most important?

Angela Y.

Answered Oct 7, 2022

In general, consulting agreements are independent contractor agreements, which in their most basic forms are someone is paying you "x" amount for work that you do with limited or no benefits (i.e. you're not an employee). Important sections include the services section (i.e. what you are doing for them), compensation, restrictive covenants (non-competes, etc.), work product and ownership or work product, and termination. Other important sections depend on what type of services you are providing and the types of risks inherent to those services.

Read 1 attorney answer>

Consulting Agreement

North Carolina

Asked on Nov 8, 2023

Can I draft my own consulting agreement?

I am a small business owner who is looking to hire a consultant to help with my business strategy. I am interested in drafting my own consulting agreement, but am unsure of the legal requirements and implications of doing so. I want to make sure I am following all of the necessary legal guidelines to protect both myself and the consultant.

N'kia N.

Answered Nov 12, 2023

A small business that wishes to draft an agreement for hiring a consultant should consider various legal requirements and implications. For just a few examples: 1. An agreement is not a valid and enforceable "contract" unless it contains certain essential elements. 2. Issues like ambiguity, contradiction, and vagueness in an agreement can be (and sometimes must be) interpreted against the drafting party. 3. Drafting an agreement for a person who will be providing individual services is a factor that could be used to interpret the relationship as "employment" when it was not intended to be. Since consultants are usually experts of some sort, they often make their living by providing their consulting services to numerous clients. Therefore, most consultants have their own consulting agreements to present to their prospective clients. A knowledgeable North Carolina attorney can assist with drafting, reviewing, or negotiating a consulting agreement. Even if you decide to handle a consulting agreement on your own, a legal consultation can provide guidance to help you get things started on the right foot. Good luck!

Read 1 attorney answer>

Consulting Agreement


Asked on Nov 4, 2023

Are consulting agreements legally binding?

I am a consultant looking to enter into a consulting agreement with a client. I am wondering if consulting agreements are legally binding and what the implications of that would be for both parties. I want to ensure that I am protected and that my client is held accountable for any obligations they have agreed to.

Merry A.

Answered Dec 5, 2023

In theory, all consulting (and other written agreements) are legally binding/enforceable, but in practice, it depends entirely on how an agreement is written and the understanding of the parties when they form an agreement. If you will be working on many projects, with many clients, I urge you to get assistance from an attorney in reviewing/writing any boilerplate you end up using, including choosing certain paragraphs that may change from contract to contract.

Read 1 attorney answer>

Consulting Agreement


Asked on Nov 4, 2023

How to terminate a consulting agreement?

I recently entered into a consulting agreement with a client. After a few months, I have realized that the terms of the agreement are not beneficial to me and I would like to terminate it. I would like to know what legal steps I need to take in order to terminate the agreement and what potential repercussions I may face.

Diane D.

Answered Dec 19, 2023

That's why you should read the agreement before you sign it and bring it to an attorney to review. Termination conditions of the contract should be in the contract. You have to follow those. If you don't like them, you can ask the other party if you can change them or if you can break the contract. If they don't agree, you're stuck and will be in breach if you try to cancel it. You can cancel it if the other party breaches it, but you have to have a valid reason or the courts will not grant it and you will end up with major legal bills.

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