Construction projects are complicated endeavors with many of the same legal considerations found in large organizations. This complexity often leads to disagreements between the parties involved, ranging from developers, owners, and investors, to general contractors, suppliers, governments, unions, and laborers, among many others. Projects need effective legal counsel for competitive bidding, contract negotiations, labor and employment matters, land use and zoning, environmental and safety regulations, insurance, government relations, and many other areas.
Choosing the right counsel can make all the difference. But what are the variables to consider in selecting a construction law firm? Experience matters, but here’s a rundown of some other factors to consider in deciding which counsel is best in a particular situation.
Elements of construction law require specialized experience, but it’s smart to also consider the breadth of experience across the entire firm. Is the firm a full-service firm, with attorneys experienced in all the major areas that might come up in a project? For instance, some larger projects may qualify for local or state economic development incentives which require counsel on how to navigate that process.
Does the firm have attorneys with experience in the most relevant areas, such as labor and employment, contract negotiations, and local zoning? Look for a firm with broad-based experience in a range of matters before selecting a construction law firm.
Explore whether the firm has experience in construction project-related legal matters by reviewing the firm’s listed representative matters. Have they done construction cases, and if so, what kind? What types of matters did those construction cases concern? Representative matters help indicate whether an attorney has the right experience for a particular claim.
Look into the facts of the individual cases to see how they compare and find out about the outcome. Remember, past performance is no guarantee of future results. The goal is to choose a firm that has familiarity with the legal issues that might arise during the dispute.
Try to gain clarity on the roles and responsibilities of attorneys and staff who will provide representation in negotiations and any court proceedings. Also, ask about plans for providing status updates. The best firms welcome the opportunity to keep clients in the know so they are never wondering about what’s happening in their cases. Law firm partners typically assign work on a case to their younger associates, with the partner only getting significantly involved at later stages that require negotiations or appearances at court hearings. This approach is fairly universal, but the time to ask about those arrangements is before signing an engagement letter. Clients are justified in asking about the backgrounds of associates and staff members and when and how they will be able to speak with the supervising partner. Construction law issues can get very complicated, so the more information, the better.
The team at Cokinos|Young provides all aspects of construction law to owners/developers, general contractors, project managers, design professionals, subcontractors, material and equipment suppliers, sureties, insurance companies, lenders, and others. Call us or contact us online for a consultation.