This morning as I sat dealing with both the preparation for a two day arbitration and a minor case of writer’s block, I saw a great note from my friend Brett Marston at the Virginia Construction Law Update that again piqued my interest. Brett pointed out a great viewpoint article in ENR Magazine written in response to a prior attack on a lawyers role in construction published in an earlier issue (and to which I responded previously here at Construction Law Musings).
The main point found in the recent ENR Viewpoint, written by construction attorney Andrew Ness, was that the assistance of an experienced construction lawyer early in the process can and should lead to both fewer conflicts and, in the unfortunate event of a conflict, the faster and more efficient resolution of these disputes. Unfortunately, as in any profession (from architects and engineers to contractors), not all construction attorneys are created equal and the “assistance” of inexperienced counsel (in the sense that such counsel may not be steeped in construction much as I am not in tax law) can at times cause the types of headaches all clients encounter on occasion.
As those of you that read this construction law blog know, I am a big fan of ADR, and in particular mediation as a means of dispute resolution. I am also a huge proponent of early access to a lawyer that knows a construction contract can assure that expectations among the parties are aligned up front. I recommend that you read both Viewpoints and the comments to them.
While I could try and sum up my thoughts on this subject here, I think that Mr. Ness says is best when he states:
By training and experience, a good construction lawyer brings unique skills to a construction project that can meaningfully contribute to project success. And that is precisely what most of us find most rewarding about our job, just like other professionals in the construction industry.
What are your thoughts?
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