I’m Always Learning from Teaching about Construction

ConsensusDOCS Construction Management Contract...

ConsensusDOCS Construction Management Contractual Relationships (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back on November 8 and 9, 2016, aside from hearing about some sort of election, I joined a good friend of mine, Chuck McCarthy, from W. M. Jordan Company to teach part of the AGC Project Manager Development Program. Being an attorney, I was of course teaching the module on Contract Management. Chuck and I spent two 8 hour days with over 20 construction folks with various levels of construction management experience discussing construction contracts and how they affect the day to day work on the job site.

Chuck and I “tag teamed” on various sections of the course ranging from an overview and introduction to construction law and contract basics to negotiating a fair contract and ConsensusDOCS form contracts and how to use them. I tried to give a practical “lawyer’s take” on contract management and Chuck was able to give insight from close to 30 years in construction on the contractor side. The attendees were energetic and often had questions about issues that they or others had run into while building a project. Often these questions gave me a new perspective on how a construction contract can and does affect the “boots on the ground.”

Aside from the obvious marketing possibilities that teaching such a course gives me and the ability to meet with different construction professionals from those with whom I usually interact, it is the questions and insights of the actual project managers that work with these contracts that make teaching such a joy. Every time I teach through the AGC, VOSH, or some other venue where I get to talk and interact with those that work in the field I learn something that I can use to inform my construction law practice. More often than not, I learn something I can use to either shore up a potential hole in a contract because of a potential risk that I had not considered or I find out that something that I thought was a huge issue really isn’t.

It is easy to fall into the “trap” of looking at a construction contract in a vacuum and to forget that construction professionals need to be able to work with these contracts in the field in a way that allows a project to run smoothly. What may be the best way to button up the risk in a contract when looked at from 10,000 feet may not be the best balance of risk that allows a project to move forward with the best profit for everyone. While my job as a construction attorney is to protect my client, teaching and hearing from those that actually build from the contract documents that I help to draft makes me better able to protect my client while still keeping the project moving forward. I have often stated that construction lawyers can and should be a help, not a hindrance,to the commercial construction process. Teaching these courses allows me to learn how to better achieve this goal.

So without further ado, thanks to the AGC for the opportunity to teach this course, to Chuck for his help and making the experience fun, and most importantly, to those who attended. I hope you learned something, I know I did.

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