If Not “Master Services Agreement,” What?

Generally, action is better than gestures. But gestures can lead to action, so I’m amenable to gestures.

For example, perhaps ten years ago I was surprised to have a training participant suggest that I not use guys when addressing the men and women in the group. At first I wasn’t convinced, but now, no guys.

Similarly, in the past few years, eliminating master-slave terminology has become a thing. I gather it started in technology, but it has migrated to law. Specifically, I’ve encountered organizations that have eliminated the master in master services agreement. Go here for a LinkedIn article about that. It’s not a matter of being “politically correct,” but of doing right by people, in word and, ideally, in deed.

But what do we call that kind of contract, if not master services agreement? One of my clients has changed the title of their MSA to main services agreement, so as to preserve the M in MSA. If keeping the initials MSA isn’t a priority, what title should we use? Or is changing the title too much of a nuisance, even if one has the best of intentions?

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.