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June 15, 2022

About Us

The ABA Forum on Construction Law:  Building the Best Construction Lawyers

The Forum’s new Mission Statement, adopted in 2012, emphasizes the Forum’s core focus on the education and professional development of Construction lawyers.  Indeed, this has been the heart of the Forum’s mission since its founding in 1976.  But this is not meant to signal a narrowing of the Forum’s traditionally broad efforts at improving Construction law and practice, and at enhancing the careers of Construction lawyers generally.  

While the phrase “serving the construction industry” as seen in prior Mission Statements no longer appears, the Forum continues to demonstrate to the broader Construction industry the positive role that Construction lawyers can and do play.  Enhancing industry perceptions of the lawyer’s contribution is a significant means of promoting greater opportunities and more fulfilling careers for Construction lawyers.  The Forum’s Mission also remains closely tied to the three pillars of the Forum’s activities, encapsulated in the motto “Programs, Publications, People.”

The Forum on Construction Law is the largest organization of Construction lawyers in the United States, and indeed in the world.  The Forum’s roughly 6,000 Members and Associates are drawn from all types of Construction practice – law firms large and small,  solo practitioners, in-house and government counsel, as well as construction professionals and the public sector.  Forum members represent all segments of the Construction industry: owners, developers, design professionals, contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, construction managers, lenders, insurers and sureties.  

Consistent with the ABA’s original concept of an industry-focused forum, the Forum is a place where all viewpoints on the concerns of the Construction industry are welcomed, regularly aired, and considered.  Much of the Forum’s work is accomplished through its fourteen Divisions, each focused on a different aspect or element of Construction practice.  The leadership  and administration of the Forum’s activities vest in the Forum’s Governing Committee, comprised of twelve Forum members, each serving a three-year term, and three Officers: the Chair-Elect, Chair, and Immediate Past Chair.  Four new Governing Committee members and the Chair-Elect are elected at the Forum’s Annual Meeting each year, in accordance with the Forum’s Bylaws.

As the Forum’s activities have expanded, the Governing Committee works increasingly through a number of standing committees, appointed by the Forum Chair and comprised of a mix of Governing Committee members, at-large Forum members, and (in several cases) liaisons from each of the Divisions and the Young Lawyers Division.  The current standing committees include Diversity, Division Chairs, Division Selection, Finance, Marketing, Membership, Nominating, Publications, Special Programs and Education (SPEC), and Technology.

After an informal group took the initiative to organize a series of popular young lawyer events at Forum programs, the Governing Committee in 2009 authorized creation of the Young Lawyers Division (YLD) to address the particular needs and interests of younger Construction lawyers and provide enhanced professional development and networking opportunities.

Starting from a 1973 proposal that the ABA should include groups organized by industry or client focus to complement the Sections organized along traditional legal practice lines, the Forum (originally, until 1984, “Forum Committee”) on the Construction Industry was one of three original Forums approved  by the ABA House of Delegates in 1976.  Instrumental in gaining this approval was Robert R. Hume, who would subsequently serve as the first Forum Chair.  Thanks to his enthusiastic efforts, Mr. Hume was able to inform the House of Delegates that he had already collected $15 from 150 experienced Construction lawyers who supported formation of the Forum, as seed money and initial dues.  

The first Forum program was held in Chicago in April 1977 and attracted 148 paid registrants.  The first Annual Meeting, where the ten original Forum Divisions met for the first time, was held in Denver in 1980.  From the outset, the Forum was focused on producing top quality Construction CLE, and quickly found that its programs fulfilled a need, as Construction law practice was entering a protracted period of growth and development.  By the mid-1980’s, the Forum was sponsoring, as it does today, three national programs each bar year – the Fall, Mid-Winter and Annual Meetings.  The Regional Programs were initiated in 2002, initially focusing on Fundamentals of Construction Law, which continues as a regular and popular topic.

Over the Forum’s first 20 years, The Construction Lawyer  (published four times per year since the inaugural Spring 1980 issue) was the Forum’s only publication.  In the mid-1990s, however, the Governing Committee approved creation of the Forum’s book publishing program, with the ambitious goal of eventually publishing two books per year.  The Forum’s first book, Sweet on Construction Law, was published in 1997, and many more followed, today comprising The Forum Bookshelf.  The Forum’s newsletter, Under Construction, also began publishing in 1997.  Today, the Forum’s educational products also include a number of topical audio CDs, MP3 downloads, podcasts and online courses.

The Forum is all about  Programs, Publications and People.  In all of our activities, we value:

•    Quality—We adhere to the highest professional standards in all that we do.

•    Integrity—We have no personal agendas. We put the best interests of the Forum first.  We are collaborative, transparent, and accountable.

•    Fellowship—We are collegial, nurturing, inclusive, supportive, accessible, non-judgmental, welcoming, and mentoring.

•    Openness and Diversity—We thrive on openness and diversity of ideas, of people, of geographies, of clients, of practices, and of experience.

How can you get involved in what the Forum has to offer?

•    Become a Member or Associate and start receiving the benefits.

•    Attend Forum Programs, which provide top quality, focused Construction law education, as well as outstanding opportunities to build your personal network.

•    Read Forum Publications, including our newsletter -- Under Construction, and  legal journal -- The Construction Lawyer.

•    Join and become active in one or more Divisions where you can get directly involved in the ongoing projects of the Division, and work directly with and learn from others who share your specific professional interests.

•    Under age 36?  Then join the Young Lawyers Division, which focuses on the needs of those earlier in their careers, and sponsors numerous social events and networking opportunities for young Construction lawyers.

•    Take advantage of the Forum’s online Member Resources, such as the Searchable Knowledgebase to get instant information by searching past Forum papers, presentations and other materials generated since 2002, or the new Membership Directory, exclusively for members found in the right column of our membership page.