Read the Contract

As law librarians we should all know the value of reading a contract before we sign it. And yet…

For librarians, some specific clauses in contracts to take note of are:

  • Renewal of the contract – does the contract renew automatically? If yes, what will the new terms be and how much notice needs to be given to prevent that from happening?
  • Material change – what happens if the number of lawyers at your firm increases or decreases? The vendor may have the right to increase the amount you are paying if the number of lawyers increases, but the contract may not require them to do the reverse.
  • Location of users – are there any geographic limitations on who can use the material?
  • Schedule – if there’s a schedule to the contract that lists what is included in the contract, check it carefully to make sure it includes everything that you have agreed to with the vendor

If a clause looks like it might cause a problem, it is always worthwhile asking if it can be removed or amended. (And beware the words “that’s standard, but we won’t hold you to it.”)

Susannah Tredwell

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