Shelly D. Masters

Principal | Austin


Shelly Masters is an experienced trial attorney representing clients in multiple areas of litigation, with a particular focus on construction, commercial, employment and product liability matters.  After practicing more than twenty years, she has amassed a successful track record of prosecuting and defending complex multi-party cases before state and federal courts in multiple states involving a wide range of legal issues.  Shelly is acutely aware of the issues facing those involved in the construction industry and actively uses that knowledge to find proactive, unique and efficient solutions to solve client problems.  She has litigated and successfully resolved millions of dollars in dispute. She has argued thousands of motions and taken hundreds of depositions in courtrooms and boardrooms across the country.  She is a prepared and aggressive litigator when the time comes.

In addition to her legal work, Shelly is a frequent author and speaker for professional, legal and trade associations.  She keeps abreast of national and state litigation trends and legislation to better serve her clients. She consults and trains clients on a variety of topics designed to minimize risks so that her clients have the tools to protect against future disputes and litigation.


  • University of Houston Law School – J.D., 1998
  • University of Texas School of Law (1997)
  • University of Texas at Austin – B.A., 1995

Recognitions & Distinctions

  • Best Lawyers in America 2019 – 2024:  Commercial Litigation, Construction Law, and Litigation – Construction
  • Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel (FDCC) (Inducted 2019)
  • FDCC Ladder Down National Class of 2022
  • Life Fellow – Texas Bar Foundation (2019)
  • Outstanding Service Award for 10 Years on Board of Directors of Associated Builders and Contractors (2018)
  • Terry Scholar – University of Texas at Austin

Representative Experience

  • Lead litigation counsel for a large national general contractor in defense of a complex construction defect lawsuit alleging $250 million in property damage involving the renovation and expansion of a continuing care retirement facility which, following extensive discovery, depositions, appeals and dispositive motions, the case was successfully resolved as to all claims.
  • Successful intervention and negotiation of favorable terms in a proposed $43.5 million national class action settlement on behalf of several large subcontractors in multiple states involving failing plumbing pipe installed in thousands of residential homes.
  • Lead litigation counsel in high-damage complex multiparty litigation against national production manufacturer, component part manufacturers, product suppliers in multiple companion construction products liability lawsuits spanning multiple states with alleged damages in excess of $20 million.
  • Lead litigation counsel for a property owner against its design team, general contractor and a dozen subcontracts for faulty workmanship and alleged damages in excess of $5 million resulting in a favorable pre-trial settlement.
  • Lead litigation counsel against over $40 Million in claims involving premature corrosion and failure of complex energy pipelines. Following extensive discovery and dispositive motions, the case settled favorably for the defense.
  • Defense counsel for national general contractor in a mixed nonpayment and construction defect matter with an alleged $12 million property damage.
  • Successful prosecution and settlement of a design defect case against a project architect on behalf of a property owner involving a $1.5 million construction project.
  • Successful prosecution of $2.2 million nonpayment and breach of contract matter involving construction of a retirement community on behalf of a general contractor.
  • Successfully noticed, filed and foreclosed on millions of dollars in mechanic’s lien and bond claims on behalf of all types of companies involved in construction.
  • Selected and served as national and state trial counsel for over a decade for a major product manufacturer involved in widespread products liability / toxic tort litigation involving thousands of plaintiffs and defendants.
  • Served as national trial and coordinating counsel on behalf of multiple international product manufacturers in multiple states including Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Montana and more.

Speaking Engagements & Presentations

  • Speaker, “Combatting, Cutting and Defending Against Fee Shifting Claims”, FDCC Annual Meeting (Seattle, July 26, 2022)
  • Speaker, “Price Escalation Issues and Smart Business Practices, Central Texas Subcontractors Association (April 12, 2022)
  • Speaker, “Marijuana in the Workplace: It’s Complicated, ABC Safety Forum Panel, ABC Central Texas Chapter (Feb. 15, 2022)
  • Speaker, “City, State and Federal Update: COVID Protocols”, Central Texas Subcontractors Association (Feb. 8, 2022)
  • Speaker, Avoiding Unions: Employer Do’s and Don’ts, Associated Builders & Contractors Central Texas Chapter, May 12, 2021.
  • Speaker, Texas Legal Update: Subcontractor Nonpayment Claims and Mechanic’s Liens, CTSA, April 13, 2021.
  • Speaker, COVID Impacts – Return to Work, Paid Leave & Vaccination Policies, IEC Central Texas Chapter, January 21, 2021.
  • “COVID Impacts – Return to Work, Paid Leave & Vaccination Policies” for the Independent Electrical Contractors Member Forum (January 2021).
  • “Legal Impacts of COVID-19” for the Central Texas Subcontractors Association (September 2020).
  • “Dealing with Delays, Disruptions and Lost Dollars” for the 2019 Annual CTSA Construction Law Conference.
  • “Avoiding Legal / HR Pitfalls – Why a Leadership Culture is Important” for the 2019 ABC Leadership Conference.
  • “Emerging Trends on Limiting Liability with or without the Spearin’ Doctrine” for the 2019 FDCC Winter Conference.
  • “The Subcontractor’s Legal Toolbox” presentation for CTSA (Dec. 2018).
  • “Perfecting and Enforcing Lien Claims”, “Litigating Construction Claims”, “Pay Me – No ‘Ifs Ands or Buts about It’”, and “Construction Mistakes to Laugh & Cry About It” for the 2018 Annual CTSA Construction Law Conference.
  • “Ban the Box” for Associated Builders & Contractors Lunch & Learn program (March 2017).
  • “Getting Ahead: Strategies for Achieving and Sustaining Growth” moderator and speaker for the ABC Program Series (March 28, 2015).
  • “Expedited Actions” for the 27th Annual Construction Law Conference (Feb. 27 & 28, 2014).


  • Author, “Delegated Designs Surprise Unsuspecting Contractors”, Austin Construction News (Feb. 2022).
  • Author, Contractual Risk Mitigation: Three Tips for Solving PROBLEM$ in 2021, Construction News, January 3, 2021.
  • “Mission Impossible – When Coronavirus Threatens Performances” for Insights, a publication of the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel (July 2020).
  • “Mitigating Contractual COVID-19 Risk for Contractors” for Construction News (May 2020).
  • “Contractors Embrace Legal Tools to Limit Poaching of Key Employees” for NSA Today, Issue 11 (2019).
  • “Change Orders: When Change Isn’t a Good Thing” for NSA Today, Issue 10 (Oct. 2018).
  • “Design Defects Threaten Texas Contractors” for Construction News, Volume 15, Number 11 (Nov. 2018).
  • “How Does ‘Ban the Box’ Affect You” for Construction News, Volume 15, Number 10 (Oct. 2016)
  • “Employers use Non-competition & Non-solicitation Agreements to Limit Poaching of Key Employees” for Construction News (Apr. 2015).
  • “Wrongful termination: Can terminating an employee before the filing of a Worker’s Compensation claim be unlawful?” for Construction News, Volume 12, Number 10 (0ct. 2012).
  • “Retainage; the Texas Two-Step” for Construction News, Volume 11, Number 2 (Feb. 2011).
  • “Default Termination Clauses: A Lethal but Potentially Pricey Weapon” for Construction News, Volume 10, Number 4 (Apr. 2010).

Memberships & Affiliations

  • The Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel (FDCC)
      • Chair of the Construction Law Section 2022-2023
      • Chair of the Central Division of the FDCC State Representative Program
      • Vice Chair of Meeting & Sites Committee
      • Vice Chair Diversity Committee
      • Admissions Committee
  • Associated Builders & Contractors
    • LOGIC (Ladies Operating for Growth In Construction)
    • Past Chair and Board of Directors (2008-2018)
  • Central Texas Subcontractors Association, Chapter Attorney
  • Associated General Contractors of America
  • Defense Research Institute, Construction, past co-editor of Critical Path
  • Construction Financial Management Association
  • National Association of Women in Construction
  • International Electrical Contractors Association
  • Austin Bar Association
  • State Bar of Texas, Construction and Litigation Law Sections


  • State Bar of Texas
  • State Bar of Illinois
  • United States District Court: Northern, Eastern, Southern & Western Districts of Texas

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