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What does a Contract Specialist do?

By Cassie L. Damewood
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A contract specialist is in charge of the contracts into which a company enters. Her duties may include soliciting and acquiring contracts, negotiating and closing deals, and evaluating a contract's performance. She also may extend and renegotiate contracts and supervise a staff if she has one. If a contract is proposed for consideration to any department for any service or product, it should be presented to the specialist before anyone else.

Among other duties, this job includes accurately interpreting the terms of a contract and verifying the credentials of the company with which the contract is made. Once the terms are clear and the validity of the company has been established, the specialist makes sure the contract terms comply with company's policies, as well as local and regional guidelines. After these points are substantiated, she may begin negotiations.

Either alone or with clients or appropriate personnel, the specialist goes through the contract line by line. She takes notes regarding questions and concerns she may have with the terms or language. At the conclusion of her review, she and the contractor clarify these points and proceed to negotiations.

At this point, the contract specialist introduces amendments to language or terms she feels are in the best interest of her company. The contractor normally concedes or counteroffers. This interchange continues until amicable terms are agreed on by both parties or an impasse is reached and the contract goes unsigned.

A specialist also draws up contracts for her company. If similar contracts are already in place for comparable goods or services, she may use them as templates for new ones, but if the new contract has unique terms and conditions, she often starts from scratch and drafts a fresh document. Once written, the contract specialist generally reviews the new document with an associate who is knowledgeable about the service or product being contracted before finalizing it for presentation and signing.

If a breach of contract occurs, the contract specialist is normally the person who mediates with the contractor to resolve the complaint or claim. If the contract terms are changed, the specialist typically informs all involved parties, verbally and in writing. In the event the agreement needs to be broken, she may initiate the appropriate legal proceedings and follow them through to completion.

A bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience in the field of contract negotiations or contract law is normally required for this position. Background as a legal assistant or paralegal is highly desirable. Three to five years of contract experience is often a requirement for the job.

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Discussion Comments
By ceilingcat — On Jun 28, 2012

I think it's a great idea for companies to have a contract specialist on staff. Contracts are quite complicated, and naturally each party to the contract is going to be looking out for their own interests. It never hurts to have an expert in your corner to make sure your company's interests are adequately represented.

I wonder if there are people who do contract specialist work as freelancers? I bet there are plenty of small businesses that might hire someone like this occasionally. Or maybe those businesses just have their lawyers look over their contracts instead?

By starrynight — On Jun 27, 2012

@JaneAir - That makes sense! Another job I've heard of in the paralegal field is that of a nurse paralegal, but most people have a nursing background and then become paralegals, so not just any paralegal could do that job!

Anyway, I actually used to know someone who worked at a company as a government contract specialist. Her job description was basically just what it sounds like: she worked for a company that got a lot of government contracts, so she specialize in that.

Government contracts are a lot different than regular ones; there are all kinds of requirements a company needs to fulfill to get one. So they need a contract specialist with specialized knowledge!

By JaneAir — On Jun 26, 2012

You know, I have a friend who has a background as a paralegal. Lately she's been looking to move up in the field, but there actually aren't that many options for advancement as a paralegal, according to her. I'm going to suggest that she look into this.

I know she has a lot of experience in contract management from working for a law office that specializes in contract law. She's also taken a lot of continuing education courses about contracts, so I think something like this would be totally perfect for her! (And anyone else who has a paralegal background but wants to advance to something else!)

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