Contracts & Transactions

The Office of the General Counsel's Office reviews the form of all contracts and agreements to which the University is a party prior to signature.  Our Office can provide model agreement templates for departments, and is available to assist departments in negotiating agreements. 

What is the process to get a contract signed by the University?

In accordance with the University's policies regarding Business Conduct and Professional Standards, "a contract is any agreement, written or verbal, that obligates the University to pay money or other consideration for goods, services or facilities, or to provide goods, services or facilities in exchange for money or other considerations and all proposed contracts must be submitted to the Office of the General Counsel for review."  This means that contracts such as license agreements, consultant agreements, real estate leases, service provider agreements and other forms of agreement must be submitted to the Office of the General Counsel for legal review.  

Note, however, the Accounts Payable department and the Procurement Services department have established (on their respective websites) procedures regarding the purchase of goods and services from certain vendors and/or under specified dollar amounts.  These procedures should be followed in those cases.  In addition, some types of agreements must be sent to other departments at the University prior to being submitted to our office.  For example, all international contracts focused on education, academic affairs or service must first be sent to the Office of the Provost and all real estate leases must first be sent to the Director of Business Services. 

As explained in the contract review procedures, unaltered template agreements need not be sent to the Office of the General Counsel  for legal review prior to signature.  A University "template" agreement is an unaltered pre-approved form of agreement created by the Office of the General Counsel.  Our office maintains university-wide and, in some cases, department-specific template agreements. 

Both altered template agreements and non-template agreements require legal review by the Office of the General Counsel prior to signing by an authorized signatory.  To submit such a document to the Office of the General Counsel for legal review, both the Contract Submitter Checklist and the Gatekeeper Review Checklist must completed and signed and delivered or sent to our office in hardcopy with two copies of the draft agreement.  

Documents received for legal review are logged into our Sharepoint system and the contract gatekeeper and other persons designated by the gatekeeper are notified as to the status of the contract automatically via email.  A gatekeeper (and any additional contacts) can expect to receive at least three such notices stating that (i) our office has received the contract for review, (ii) the review has been completed and sent for signature; and (iii) the contract has been signed and is available for pickup from a specified location.  A gatekeeper (and any additional contacts)  may also receive a notice that the contract is being returned to the gatekeeper because it is missing documentation (such as a statement of work) or a notice stating that the contract has been assigned to a particular attorney because it requires negotiation with the non-University party. 

When our Office receives a contract we, will review its legal terms and conditions. Sometimes, a contract will require negotiation with the other party.

Both parties - the University and the service provider - must sign the contract. Please DO NOT sign the contracts on behalf of Northeastern. At Northeastern, only certain individuals have the authority to sign contracts. 

As explained in the procedures, the Contract Gatekeeper is required to keep one fully signed version of the contract for your records, as our Office does not keep contracts on file.

For the most efficient review and completion of a contract, it is best to contact our Office during the planning stages. Please see our Contract Review Procedures (New)* or call us at x2157 for more information.

For assistance with issues related to photo, video, or other creative or multimedia projects, please consult the Photo/Video toolkit.

Contract Resources

October 30, 2013 Step by Step for Beginners: How to Walk Through the Contract Review Process

February 26, 2013 Tales from the Trenches

January 2012 Brown Bag Lunch Seminar How to Speed up the Contract Review Process

July 2011 Brown Bag Lunch Seminar How to Speed up the Contract Review Process Northeastern University

July 2010 Brown Bag Lunch Seminar Anatomy of a Contract

Contract FAQs

How will I know the status of a contract that I have submitted for review?
Our contract tracking system will send e-mail notifications to the submitter of the contract and any secondary contacts that the submitted designated on the contract cover sheet, which should be submitted with each contract. 

Could I be personally liable if I sign a contract and I am not one of the University's authorized signatories?
Yes.  Personal liability can include all costs and expenses associated with the contract, including attorneys' fees.

Are there any agreements which need to be submitted to an office or department prior to being submitted to the Office of the General Counsel?

Yes.  There are currently two (2) types of such agreements: a) International Contracts and b) Real Estate Leases.

International contracts must first be sent to the VP of Global Relations in the Provost's office.  Real Estate Leases much first be sent to the Director of Business Services.

What do I put in the compensation section of an agreement?
Please view the compensation description (Microsoft Word) of what to consider when entering a compensation description in a contract.

Are there any insurance requirements for either holding an event my department wants to sponsor on campus or organizing an event off campus?
Yes.  Any and all questions about insurance should be directed by email to  For a prompt response, please provide: your name, contact number, purpose of the request and/or a brief description of the issue and applicable dates and amounts involved.  Sonya Granahan, Director of Risk Services will be able to answer any questions you may have. 

What is the law regarding hiring an independent contractor to work at the University?
Please visit Accounts Payable to review information to determine whether or not your independent contractor can perform work at the University.  For additional information, please read the May 2005 Newsletter decribing Independent Contractor Law.

New Procedures/Forms

Revised Procedures for the Business Review of Contracts

The Office of the Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer together with the Office of the General Counsel are implementing revised procedures for the business review of and authorization for all agreements entered into on behalf of the University.  The revised procedures are effective October 1, 2015 with full implementation and compliance required by December 1, 2015.  The revised procedures, including new checklists and a training power point presentation, are available below.

All proposed University agreements that do not use the Procurement Department’s online purchasing system require review by a designated area contract gatekeeper prior to signing by an authorized University signatory.  While unaltered University template agreements will no longer necessitate routing to the Office of the General Counsel for legal review, both altered template agreements and non-template agreements will still require legal review by the Office of General Counsel prior to signing by an authorized signatory.

Training on the new Business Review of Contracts procedures was conducted throughout the summer and early fall. Additional training for new gatekeepers and contract submitters can be provided upon request.   

For more information, or to schedule a training, contact the Office of the General Counsel at x2157.

The University maintains a number of standard template agreements which, for a number of reasons, should be used wherever possible to document various types of transactions and/or events at the University. If you have questions about which form is correct for your event or transaction, please contact us.


For assistance with issues related to photo, video, or other creative or multimedia projects, please consult the Photo/Video toolkit.


The following template files are in Word .docx format. If you need assistance with the forms or have any questions regarding the use of these forms, please contact our office at ext. 2157.