John C. Warren

Principal | Houston


John Warren is a principal in the Houston office of Cokinos | Young. John is Board Certified by The Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Construction Law and focuses his practice on all types of major industrial, commercial, and residential construction, development, and real estate. Although he often helps clients avoid litigation through early involvement in the project’s lifecycle, John is frequently asked to handle disputes relating to design and construction defects, delays, loss of productivity, differing site conditions, mechanic’s and materialman’s liens, and performance and payment bond issues in the public and private sectors. John has counseled clients with respect to projects involving large petroleum processing facilities, tank farms, marine terminals, pipelines, dredging operations, convention centers, airports, schools, hospitals, hotels, federal government buildings, multi-level office buildings, condominiums, fire stations, commercial/retail buildings, strip malls, roads, bridges, master-planned developments, raw land, and residences.

In addition to his litigation practice, John also regularly drafts, reviews, and negotiates all types of construction (including EPC), real estate, and development contracts, as well as commercial leases and commercial lending packages.

Prior to his career as an attorney, John earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and worked for several years as a Project Manager for a high-end general contractor. As a Project Manager, John acted as the liaison between owners, architects, engineers and subcontractors on a variety of different construction projects, gaining valuable experience and insight into the construction industry.

John is a frequent speaker and author concerning various legal issues affecting the construction industry. John is a past council member of the Construction Law Section of the State Bar of Texas, is a past Chair of the Houston Bar Association’s Construction Law Section, and is the founding Editor of The Change Order, a monthly publication reporting on significant cases affecting Construction Law, which is distributed in connection with the State Bar of Texas Construction Law Section. John is also an active member of several industry organizations.


  • St. Mary’s University School of Law – J.D., 2008: Comment Editor, St. Mary’s Law Journal, Phi Delta Phi Legal Honors Fraternity, External Advocacy Program – Mock Trial
  • University of Texas at Austin – B.S. Architectural Engineering, 2002

Recognitions & Distinctions

  • Chambers USA: Ranked Lawyer in Texas Construction Law (2023 – 2024)
  • Best Lawyers in America 2019 – 2024: Construction Law & Litigation – Construction
  • Named a Texas Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters for 2021-2023
  • Named to the Super Lawyers “Top List” for “Up-and-Coming 100: 2019 Texas Rising Stars”
  • Named to the Super Lawyers “Top List” for “Up-and-Coming 100: 2020 Texas Rising Stars”
  • Named a 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 Texas Rising Star in Construction Litigation by Thomson Reuters. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of lawyers in the state are selected to receive this honor.
  • AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell peer review ratings; the highest rating possible
  • Life Fellow – Texas Bar Foundation

Representative Experience

  • Obtained favorable defense award after three-week arbitration hearing on behalf of ENR Top 10 general contractor client against claims of over $37,000,000 brought by subcontractor and four pass-through sub-subcontractors.  Case involved one of the largest commercial projects ever built in the City of Houston, and the largest healthcare tower project built to date in the Texas Medical Center, with construction costs that exceeded $500,000,000.  After 28 witnesses and nearly 4,000 trial exhibits and demonstratives, claimants recovered nothing on loss of productivity and delay claims associated with alleged mismanagement, abuse, and intentional interference, and were denied request for over $6,800,000 in attorney’s fees and costs.
  • Obtained eight-figure settlement on behalf of dredging contractor against public port authority related to over 3,000 instances of differing site-conditions and resulting damages.
  • Obtained favorable settlement on behalf of public entity in defense of claims from civil contractor related to alleged design deficiencies on urban road and drainage project.
  • Obtained favorable settlement on behalf of pipeline contractor in defense of claim for eight-figure damages asserted by major pipeline operator involving alleged workmanship issues associated with premature corrosion on complex pipeline system.  Case settled after over forty depositions were completed and shortly after Court granted motion to strike thirteen of Plaintiff’s experts.
  • Represented owner of large petroleum processing facility, tank farm, and marine terminal in dispute with engineering firm involving over thirty engineering design errors, omissions, and other deficiencies which resulted in substantial damages and delays to construction of project.
  • Obtained favorable defense award, including award of all attorneys’ fees, after a sixteen-day arbitration hearing on behalf of general contractor against subcontractor on over twenty separate claims involving alleged change directives, differing site conditions, delays, and losses of productivity related to federal government project. Cross-examined Plaintiff’s main fact and damages witness for over four days.
  • Obtained unanimous jury verdict for all damages and attorney’s fees on counterclaim after weeklong trial for a landscape design and construction company in a commercial lease dispute case. Affirmed by the 14th Court of Appeals: Ford v. Premier Installations and Design Group Inc.
  • Obtained favorable settlement for pipeline contractor in defense of differing site conditions claims brought by horizontal directional drilling subcontractor on project in North Carolina.
  • Obtained summary judgment and recovered defense costs after first week of three week arbitration hearing on behalf of a concrete subcontractor against owner in multi-party construction defect arbitration involving foundation issues on a major school project.
  • Represented national general contractor against governmental entity and architect in breach of contract case related to over 2,800 design deficiencies and associated delays/constructive acceleration in connection with expansion of a major city convention center project.
  • Obtained summary judgment and defense costs on behalf of general contractor in district court case involving breach of contract and fraud claims brought by subcontractor related to a commercial build-out project.
  • Obtained favorable arbitration award and attorney’s fees after two-week hearing on behalf of custom homebuilder for construction defect case against multiple subcontractors.
  • Represented national general contractor in multi-party construction defect and delay case involving international material suppliers on a 10-story office building project.

Speaking Engagements & Presentations

  • Speaker, Construction Law Basics Series – Part 2: You Say Stop, But I Say Go Go Go; What to Expect from a Surety During Default, Houston Contractor’s Association Education Committee Seminar, November 3, 2023
  • Speaker, Construction Law Basics Series – Part 1: Changes, Houston Contractor’s Association Education Committee Seminar, May 19, 2023
  • Speaker, So You Want to be a Construction Lawyer? Top Ten Tips for the Under-A-Decade Lawyer, Construction Law Webinar Co-Sponsored by the Construction Law Foundation of Texas and the Construction Law Section of the State Bar of Texas, May 19, 2022
  • Speaker, Show Me the Money: Payment Security and Getting Paid, Houston Contactor’s Association, Educational Breakfast Seminar, September 3, 2020
  • Speaker, Change Orders: Everything’s the Same Until it’s Different, Houston Contactor’s Association Educational Breakfast Seminar, February 25, 2020
  • Speaker, Contracts from the General Contractor’s Perspective, The Basics Course in Texas Construction Law, Houston, Texas, December 5-6, 2019
  • Guest Lecturer, The University of Texas at Austin, Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering, October 23, 2019
  • Speaker, Recent Legislation Affecting the Construction Industry, Houston Contractors Association Management Trip, Chicago, Illinois, September 21, 2019
  • Speaker, Mind If I Pass-Through? Pass-Through Claims and Liquidating Agreements, 32ndAnnual Construction Law Conference, San Antonio, Texas, February 28, 2019
  • Speaker, Show Me the Money: Payment Security and Getting Paid, Associated Builders and Contractor’s Houston Contractor Educational Series, Houston, Texas, February 21, 2019
  • Speaker, Contracts from the General Contractor’s Perspective, The Basic Course in Texas Construction Law, Austin, Texas, December 13-14, 2018
  • Speaker, 10 Things to Look for Before Signing Your Next Contract, Houston Contractors Association Management Trip, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, October 19, 2018
  • Speaker, Avoiding, Transferring, and Limiting Risk in EPC Contracts, 6thAnnual Contract and Risk Management Conference, Houston, Texas, September 14, 2018
  • Speaker, Contingent Payment (“Pay-If-Paid”) Clauses in Subcontracts, Houston MBDA Business Center Legal Lunchtime Forum, Houston, Texas, May 16, 2018
  • Presiding Officer, The Basic Course in Texas Construction Law, Houston, Texas, December 1-2, 2016
  • Presiding Officer, The Basic Course in Texas Construction Law, Dallas, Texas, November 30 – December 1, 2017
  • Speaker, Causes of Action in Texas Construction Law, The Basic Course in Texas Construction Law, Austin, Texas, November 13, 2015
  • Frequent Guest Lecturer, Construction Law & Ethics Course, Construction Management Department, University of Houston
  • Speaker, A Frustrating Foursome of Contract Terms: Choice of Law, Limitation of Remedies in Arbitration, Liquidated Damages and Labor Shortage, The EPC Contract and Risk Management Seminar, Houston, Texas, January 15, 2015
  • Speaker, Making It Rain Without Getting Soaked: Marketing For New Lawyers, 28th Annual Construction Conference, San Antonio, Texas, March 6, 2015


  • Editor, The Change Order, State Bar of Texas Construction Law Section, 2018-Present
  • Author, Forum-Selection and Choice-of-Law Provisions: Are They Enforceable?, Houston Construction News, Vol. 13, No. 12, December 2016
  • Author, Construction Laws and Customs: Texas, Practical Law – Thomson Reuters, November 4, 2015-2019
  • Author, Setting the Limits in Texas Construction Law: A Look at the Surety’s Limitations Under Indemnity Agreements and Equitable Subrogation, 39 St. Mary’s L.J. 423 (2007), reprinted in 24 Legal Handbook for Architects, Engineers and Contractors: Issues in Construction and Technology 2007/2008 (Albert H. Dib ed., West Group 2008).

Memberships & Affiliations

  • Texas Board of Professional Engineers:  Registered Engineer in Training (EIT)
  • Texas Bar Association:  Construction Law Section (Council Member 2020-2023; Editor of The Change Order, a monthly publication reporting on significant cases affecting Construction Law; Chair of 2016 and 2017 Basic Course in Texas Construction Law; 2016 and 2017 Young Construction Lawyer Representative and Young Construction Lawyers Committee Chairperson for Houston)
  • Houston Bar Association:  Construction Law Section, Chair (2019-2020); Chair – Elect (2018-2019); Treasurer (2017-2018); Council Member (2013-2016), Litigation Section
  • American Bar Association
  • Associated Builders and Contractors of America, Greater Houston Chapter, Committee Member
  • Associated General Contractors of America, Houston Chapter Member, Committee Member
  • Houston Contractors Association, Committee Member
  • University of Texas Silver Spurs Alumni Association, former Board Member


  • State Bar of Texas (2008)
  • United States District Court: Southern District of Texas
  • Pro Hac Vice Admission – State of Ohio

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