The contrapuntal play between risk minimization and contractual flexibility

For the 45 lawyers and 20 paralegals of Affiliated Computer Services’ law department, much of their work involves large-scale, long-term outsourcing contracts. William Deckelman, the company’s general counsel, interviewed for top of mind, Vol. 5, 2006 by Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham at 6, invokes the metaphor that the ideal outsourcing contract should “breathe.” He and his colleagues strive to craft agreements that strike the right balance between risk protection and business flexibility.

Many people say reflexively that the law department’s role is to reduce legal risk. What they forget is that one companion to adamant risk reduction is commercial inflexibility. Sensitivity to business realities and unforeseeable events helps counsel breath life into a contract.

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