Building a Better Construction Lawyer: Seeing a Project From the Owner’s Side

We have all heard the old axiom: A lawyer who represents themself has a fool for a client. More truth than not in that statement, probably. But I recently learned an often unrepeated corollary: Being a client can make you a better lawyer.

My career as a construction lawyer spans nearly 40 years.During that time, I have represented owners and contractors in public and private projects of every nature and scope, including sports stadiums, power plants, manufacturing facilities, schools, theaters, water treatment plants, office buildings and just about any type of building project that involved swinging a hammer, except maybe a tree house! I have also been involved in hiring contractors for small projects on my own house.

For the past year or so, though, my role in these types of projects was reversed as I served on my own law firm’s building committee. Our task was to plan and supervise the build-out of a new 37,000-square-foot office within a certain budget range, with a move-in date of about a year from the day we hired our architects.

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