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Legal Guide to Managing Contracts & Risk in Design Projects

Design professionals are exposed to multiple, often substantial, risks in any given project including scope creep, vague terms, escalating responsibilities, delays, damages, negligence claims, insurance challenges, and other liabilities which can result in steep costs, onerous efforts, and significant reputational damage. It is imperative you have the skills you need to protect your projects, business, and your professional reputation.

Practical. Relevant. Developed exclusively for professionals working with design projects – and their advisors – this intensive and solutions-focused program will equip you with a repertoire of skills to better assess and mitigate legal risks. Delivered by some of Canada’s leading legal and industry experts, you will get practical risk management strategies and tools that you can put to immediate use on your next design project.

Module One: Foundations in Contracts & Practical Risk Management for Design Professionals

Date: December 4, 2020
Time: 9:00am – 4:00pm EST
Registration link


This module will give you a comprehensive and practical overview of contract fundamentals and practical risk management techniques, including real-world strategies and tactics to help you effectively assess and mitigate risk on design projects. You will learn:

  • How to develop a legal risk management mindset to identify and allocate key risks
  • Contract law fundamentals for working professionals – includes how to “really read” a contract, what to watch out for, understanding contract flow/organization
  • Essential contractual clauses and why they matter – standard of care, indemnities, warranties and liquidated damages, and scope
  • Design contract fundamentals – includes standard and non-standard design services contracts, their strengths and weaknesses, and how to effectively use standard form contracts including RAIC Document Six, OAA 600, OAA 601, ACEC Document 31 and BIM Contract Appendix, IBC 100-2014
  • Strategies for navigating various project delivery methods used in design projects
  • Methods for managing common areas of liability exposure – sub-consultant risk, BIM risks and the altered risk profile in Design-Build, P3s and AFPs
  • What your insurance covers…and what it doesn’t – includes how to navigate gaps, conflicts or overlaps, overlap with professional liability policies and how to ensure that your insurance pays/responds
  • Tactics for dealing with the owner’s custom contract changes – common scenarios and examples
  • How to deal with being “out-gunned”, scope creep, fast-track design, shifting standard of care, assignment, “value engineering”, opportunistic deficiency and delay claims


Module Two: Advanced Strategies for Managing the Design Services Contract & Key Risks

Date: December 11, 2020
Time: 9:00am – 4:00pm EST
Registration link

Building on what you have learned in Module One or in your own professional practice, this module will focus on a practical toolbox of crucial skills and tactics needed to manage more advanced and perplexing issues, including new and emerging risks. You will engage in interactive, learn-by-doing exercises to get hands-on experience in risk assessment and mitigation, and in crucial drafting and negotiation techniques for design services contracts. You will emerge from this module equipped with increased knowledge, skills, experience and confidence to make more informed decisions in the face of challenge and uncertainty. You will learn:

Real-world negotiating techniques for a design services contract – includes an interactive expert negotiation demonstration of a design services contract with perspectives for both the designer and contractor, including:

  • Strategies for identifying key risks, troublesome areas and planning your response
  • Getting prepared for the negotiation
  • How to negotiate acceptable terms and “stepped” positions
  • How to protect yourself and when to walk away
  • Tips for navigating the RFQ/RFP process

How to identify, mitigate and respond to troublesome terms in a design services contract – you will have the opportunity to gain hands-on, practical experience in drafting terms for a design services contract during an interactive exercise and debrief:

  • You will apply key concepts by marking-up and revising a design services contract, and preparing your responseYou will also benefit from personalized guidance, class discussion and a debrief

Tactics for navigating uncertainty, change and legal reforms, including:

  • Navigating the complexities of liens and holdbacks
  • Interplay of prompt payment and adjudication, with CCDC documents
  • How to evaluate various remedies
  • The unique role and challenges of the consultant

Tools for building resiliency during times of uncertainty, including:

  • Lessons learned and innovations arising from the pandemic
  • Evaluating and prioritizing competing impacts
  • What keeps expert up at night and what they’re doing about it
  • Expert insights, tools and tips on what they “wish they knew 20 years ago”
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