Executive Director's Report
A Well-Built Forum
Forum on the Construction Industry Gathers Professionals With Differing Perspectives
Posted Feb 26, 2004 1:51 AM CDT
By Robert A. Stein
Among the many ABA entities that members can join, ABA forums are an excellent source of in-depth information in emerging or specialized areas of the law. A very vibrant and thriving forum is the ABA Forum on the Construction Industry.
Chaired this year by John R. Heisse II of San Francisco, the forum is the largest organization of construction lawyers in the world. Its 6,000 members are drawn from all areas of practice--lawyers from large and small firms, solo practitioners, government lawyers and corporate in-house counsel. They represent all segments of the construction industry--owners, design professionals, general contractors, construction managers, subcontractors, suppliers, insurers and sureties. The membership also includes attorneys and consultants from other countries.
Because it includes members from all segments of the construction industry, the forum serves as a meeting place for many differing perspectives. Its concentration of knowledge has made it renowned for its substance. Its reputation is built on its in-depth programs and excellent publications. Among the publications are The Construction Lawyer, a quarterly journal acclaimed for the quality and timeliness of its articles, and the forum newsletter, Under Construction.
Books for Every Area of Interest
The forum also offers an array of books. The most recent title is Construction Damages and Remedies, a guide for pricing and evaluating claims, drafting pleadings, negotiating contracts and offering quantum evidence at trial. Federal Government Construction Contracts contains detailed analysis and citations in all areas of government construction contract law. The Construction Lawyer’s Guide to Labor and Employment Law is an overview of the fundamentals of labor and employment law for the nonspecialist attorney.
Sticks and Bricks, written for construction lawyers and building owners, is a primer on the nuts and bolts of how buildings are built, as well as the systems that make them work. The Fundamentals of Construction Law provides the principles of law governing construction, as well as a practical understanding of how the industry works. And the soon-to-be-released third edition of The Design/Build Deskbook will provide the most current and complete guide to design/build contracting, licensing, insurance and procurement requirements in the United States and Canada.
The forum’s 12 divisions focus on specialized areas and provide opportunities for members to develop and share expertise, ranging from documents to design to international contracting to dispute avoidance and resolution. Each has its own Web site and e-mail discussion list.
Many of the forum’s books arise out of the work of the divisions, as well as from its in-depth CLE programs. Speakers at the January winter meeting (co-sponsored by the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section’s Fidelity and Surety Law Committee) examined such cutting-edge issues as presenting complex construction claims to juries, exploring common ethical dilemmas in multiparty representation and tackling practical surety dilemmas. Also covered were the complexity of arbitration and the problems of mold (including contractors’ liability, insurance and the gamut of challenges resulting from mold). The forum’s annual meeting, May 6-8 in Scottsdale, Ariz., will showcase all 12 divisions and their wide range of activities.
The forum also offers regional conferences, drawing large audiences for its fundamentals program. The smaller regional meetings are an opportunity for local networking, while the national meetings provide a superb vehicle for interaction with top practitioners in the field. To expand its knowledge base and networking opportunities, the forum creates strategic alliances and co-sponsors programs with significant industry and trade groups, as well as with its colleagues in state and local bars.
Member growth and retention are high priorities, and the forum focuses particularly on at- tracting younger members through its young lawyers committee.
Aiming for a steady pipeline of younger members to strengthen the forum, the committee uses its e-mail discussion list to maintain a dialogue with young lawyers on construction issues.
The forum’s savvy technology committee focuses on new electronic delivery methods for all forum products. The committee conducted a traffic analysis of its Web site to enhance program offerings based on member use. It is now developing an electronic library of construction law materials and is planning to enhance the use of Web board technology for division chat rooms.
For more information on the forum, visit its Web site at www.abanet.org/forums/construction or contact its outstanding manager, Alanna Sullivan, at 312-988-5579.