You're dealing with human nature.
Charles Dickens wrote the classic Great Expectations in 1861. The plot was simple enough. Mrs. Haversham was wealthy, in poor health, and was about to tip over. The prospective heirs had great expectations. So do your clients. You are expected to design a project that meets all of your clients' expectations regarding schedule and budget, and (of course) magically obtain all the required permits and related approvals from the applicable building and land use authorities. When great expectations collide with reality, conflicts inevitably arise, there is finger pointing, professional services fees are left unpaid, and projects can stall. Linville Law Firm presents a great seminar twice each year that can teach you how to draft key contract clauses and utilize liens in order to help secure payment for your professional services. http://linvillelawfirm.com/seminars.htm
Be realistic- acknowledge and prepare against risk.
Whenever you commit to a project, you commit your company's resources, credit and schedule. You commit to one project in lieu of another. Given your company's resources there is a limit to the professional services you can realistically deliver to your clients. So, when one project or client turns sour, it can hurt your bottom line.
That is why your contract with the client is so important. The American Institute of Architects publishes a variety of copyrighted documents for use by its members. There are "industry" contracts available for use by engineers, surveyors, designers and consultants such as A/V or IT companies. These contractual documents take you only so far. That is because they are generic. You need to go the whole distance.
The grass is so much greener.
As if it weren't enough that you had to daily deal with some difficult clients, wrangle with government agencies, find time to actually do the work you were hired to do, but you have to worry (a little) about your partners and/or associates pulling up their stakes and leaving with your clients, client lists, software, and proprietary secrets. You can protect yourself and take some strong measures to ensure your company's continuity, notwithstanding the departure of key persons. Again, Linville Law Firm presents a great semi-annual seminar that addresses these sensitive issues. http://linvillelawfirm.com/seminars.htm
How we can help.
We can help you a little by picking up the phone when you call us, and answering a question or directing you to an appropriate resource. We are members of the American Institute of Architects and work with AIA Practice and Ethics group, putting on seminars for design professionals about collections, contracts and other topics. We have presented our A/E Business Law seminars for years. We also represent insurance companies who provide the professional liability coverage for design and engineering professionals. We don't profess to know everything about everything, but we do profess to get you the right answer(s), even if we have to hang up the phone, go get the answer, and call you back.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ's).
You may have further questions. So, we have prepared an additional Legal FAQ's webpage which answers some of the more frequently asked questions with regard to professional services law.