As we turn toward 2014, signs of a more robust construction industry appear in the skylines of our major cities. According to a recent report from the Commerce Department, total construction spending recently rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $900.8 billion, the strongest performance since June 2009. The advance in housing activity pushed residential construction to its highest level since September 2008. Nonresidential construction is also surging, led by a 6.1 percent increase in the construction of hotels and motels. Total construction is 5.2% higher than it was one year ago, with residential activity up 17.2 percent. The housing rebound that began in 2012 is driving economic growth and creating new jobs in the construction industry.
Following several years of a construction downturn, our construction transactional practitioners are now gearing up for some innovative and new legal construction challenges. Owners are beginning to order construction materials directly from suppliers, thereby avoiding contractor “mark up”; design-build is becoming more popular, and private-public partnerships (the focus of our blockbuster Fall meeting in Washington, DC) are the next big thing. The new AIA documents for 2017 are now being studied by industry groups. With all of these developments, the Forum on the Construction Industry is the place to learn about these cutting edge issues and how to best counsel our clients.
In the wake of a strategic plan fostered by our Chair Terry Brookie, Last Retiring Chair Andy Ness, and our facilitator and prior Cornerstone Award Recipient, Ava Abramovitz, the focus of the Forum turns to “Building the Best Construction Lawyers.” This means you, your partners, associates and colleagues. There is no better place to learn from each other and study issues that impact our construction law practice than the Forum. Our programs deal with the practical, “walking around knowledge” you will need when problem-solving with clients.
Our upcoming 2014 meetings at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas (January 30-31, 2014) and at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana (April 9-12, 2014) will focus on counseling the client and advances in technology that impact our practice. These programs have broad appeal to our young lawyers, in-house counsel and offer plenty of sophistication for our more experienced members. With the improving economy and all of these resources, now is the time to get involved at our live meetings as a participant, a speaker, or an author. Standing on the sidelines maybe fine for some, but our goal is to get you onto the playing field. Once you step foot into the “Forum Stadium,” you will experience the intoxicating enthusiasm of Forum lawyers that simply love what they do. It spills over to not only create outstanding, highly academic programs, papers and articles, but also extends to community service opportunities and fund-raising through our food bank led by Dan Goldberg which is conducted at each of our meeting venues.
Our highly active Divisions deal with a wide range of topics that center around your practice area. Joining more than one is permitted and encouraged. Through the Divisions, you will collaborate with colleagues and broaden your knowledge base of resources. The invaluable opportunity to call another Forum colleague to request a form, strategy or approach to an issue is priceless, all the while building a friend for life. This is a unique Forum attribute that simply cannot be beat. As the largest construction group in the world, our 6000-plus members are here for a reason. If you practice construction law, you belong in the Forum. There is no competition here or fights for clients. The Forum members open their knowledge base so we can help each other be the best that we can be. If cost is a factor and stands in the way of personally attending meetings, there are a variety of ways to engage with the Forum. Our distance learning webinars offer one-hour sessions ranging from IPad applications for construction lawyers to presentations on law practice management issues, and even on how to secure your mobile devices when on the road. The Division conference calls are available monthly to learn about new insurance products-termination issues, hot legislation issues and handling delay claims. If you are a young lawyer, we will mentor you and get you on the right path with an experienced Forum Member at your side.
Do not wait -- now is the time to get involved. Get out of the stands and onto the field.
As one wise person said “there are seven days in the week and someday is not one of them.” Today is the day. Let us get you onto the field so you can learn more about construction law and on this journey you will grow both your knowledge and business, have a lot of fun and be the best construction lawyer you can be. See you in the Bahamas.