Practice/Industry Group Overview
Our team of Construction & Design attorneys is dedicated to providing comprehensive legal services to the construction, design, and surety industries. Our Construction & Design practice group represents owners, general contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, design professionals, insurers, sureties and lenders involving both public and private projects.
We serve clients best by helping them avoid disputes. Practical examples of our efforts include:
- Monthly breakfast seminars covering construction industry topics, including mechanic’s liens, development incentives, immigration and government contracting;
- Traveling to our clients’ offices to provide private seminars on topics such as preserving payment rights, the basics of construction contracting, public contracting and procurement;
- Client Alerts, detailing new laws or court decisions that can affect construction businesses
Regardless of the size or complexity of a construction matter, we are committed to achieving our clients’ objectives by finding practical and economical solutions. Our lawyers complete an early assessment and analyze the problem presented and a client’s goals to determine the most effective and efficient method to achieve them.
We understand the sensitive relationships between contractors and sureties and frequently assist sureties in fulfilling their responsibilities on bond claims. We keep abreast of cutting-edge surety issues and innovative new insurance-type products, such as Subgard, currently in use in lieu of surety bonds, and Controlled Insurance Programs (CIPs).
Nationally, our team has:
- Completed 50-state analyses on construction issues including Pay When Paid vs. Pay if Paid, Mechanic's Lien of Rights, and Design/Build Contracts
- Researched design/build construction documents
- Spoken at seminars for other lawyers and the construction industry
By developing relationships with attorneys in our firm's other practice groups, we offer clients immediate, personal and cost-effective advice when a bankruptcy, picketing or tax lien threatens to halt the progress of construction.
Many of our lawyers have construction or engineering experience before becoming lawyers. A sampling of lawyers’ past experiences include:
- Licensed professional engineer
- Journeyman plumber
- General counsel or associate general counsel at development companies
- Field attorney with the National Labor Relations Board
- Project manager for mechanical process piping contractor and heavy utilities contractor
As a group, we are active in the Construction bar, including holding current or previous leadership roles in:
- The American Bar Association’s Torts and Insurance Practice Construction Litigation Committee
- The Construction Industry Advisory Panel for the Kansas City region of the American Arbitration Association
- The St. Louis Council of Construction Consumers’ Committee on Adversarial Relations
- The Missouri Bar’s Construction Law Committee
- The Defense Research Institute and Trial Lawyers Association’s Construction Law Committee
This background, dedication and focus allow us to better understand our clients’ businesses and provide them the best possible service.
Our specific experience in the construction industry covers these areas:
While many firms emphasize the litigation aspects of their construction practice, many litigation problems can be avoided or significantly lessened by proper preparation and contractual positioning from the outset. We have prepared and negotiated hundreds of construction, design or design/build contracts for a wide range of projects on behalf of every type of service provider involved in the construction process.
In order to successfully accomplish the project objective, some degree of harmony must exist on the job site. Often that harmony can be disrupted by pickets or union strikes beyond the control of the general contractor, owner or lender. Our lawyers have substantial experience working with clients in preparing the job site to accommodate potential picketers in a way that avoids work stoppages and other job delays. When these issues cannot be otherwise avoided, we represent our clients in various state and federal courts and before government agencies, such as the National Labor Relations Board.
Our lawyers also regularly defend contractors, subcontractors and minority contractors in compliance issues regarding affirmative action. We also have extensive experience in prevailing wage issues and union disputes.
Lien & Bond Claims
Whether you are an unpaid contractor or supplier trying to collect monies owed you, an owner who wants to avoid paying twice for work performed once, or a lender who needs to protect your collateral, mechanic’s liens and payment bonds are devices you need to understand.
A properly prepared and timely filed mechanic’s lien or bond claim can be an invaluable tool, and sometimes the only way to collect monies owed. At a minimum, they typically generate significant concern on behalf of those with interests or obligations to the subject property. Conversely, lien waivers and bonds can provide a virtual bar to claims by subcontractors and suppliers against the project owners and lenders.
We have successfully prepared, prosecuted and defended against hundreds of mechanic’s lien and bond claims in dozens of states, ranging from thousands to millions of dollars.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
With the costs of litigation often outweighing the value of the claims at issue, parties more frequently look to alternative methods of dispute resolution. These methods include informal negotiations, nonbinding mediations and arbitrations.
Our attorneys have significant experience in the area of ADR. Each dispute is unique in its own right, and we believe it is important to understand which alternative is best suited to further a client’s objectives. The answer to that question is often much more complex than it might appear, and a lawyer who can provide effective guidance in that regard can be invaluable.
On occasion, despite the best intentions and best efforts of all involved, the need to litigate a dispute is simply unavoidable. In such an event, it is critical to have lawyers who are experienced not only in litigation, but in all aspects of the construction process.