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March 12, 2024 Feature

The Construction Lawyer, Vol. 43, Issue 1

John Marshall Cook

If you are reading this column and you are not a member of at least one Forum Division, you are missing some incredible content, great relationships, and plenty of fun.

My role as Chair focuses on working with the planning teams to execute the Fall, Regional, Midwinter, and Annual meetings. As an organization, we take great pride in the quality of the national and regional meetings. But those programs represent only a fraction of what the Forum does. Most of the Forum’s work product emanates from the Divisions.

The Forum’s Divisions provide regular (often monthly) content through teleconferences and publications on topics relevant to their members. They hold in-person meetings at our national meetings and plan some fantastic social events. My struggle at national meetings is typically deciding which of the many great Division lunch programs to attend. Here is just a small sampling of what the Divisions had on tap for our Midwinter meeting in Las Vegas:Divisions 4, 5, and 10 brought in a speaker from Bechtel to talk about the construction of one of the most unique energy projects in the country–the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, the world’s largest concentrated solar thermal plant;

  • Division 11 and the Young Lawyers Division presented a lunch panel focused on the risks and gambles associated with the career decisions we all face as part of the profession;
  • Division 3 brought in a pair of architects to discuss the real and interesting risks associated with projects that dump the architect midstream;
  • Divisions 1, 2, and 12 had a fun social activity involving some cocktails and learning to play my favorite table game–craps;
  • Divisions 7, 9, and 11 explored the immersive techno-artsy playground at the Area 15 entertainment district; and
  • Divisions 4, 6, and 10 were also at Area 15, offering an interactive art experience at Omega Mart.

The Divisions are doing exciting things at all of our national meetings and they are doing even more between the meetings. Finances, work obligations, or personal issues may prevent you from attending national meetings, but that does not need to inhibit your ability to make connections through the Forum. Pick a Division, or pick two or three for that matter. Attend their monthly calls. Raise your hand to help. Before you know it, you will have a Forum family—a group of people that you can call when you need advice, a contact for resources, or to refer cases, get referrals, and exchange ideas.

Our Divisions are undoubtedly the lifeblood of the Forum. They have all aspects of construction law covered. Their leaders work diligently, supported by devoted steering committees, to bring targeted content into your areas of interest. Deciding which Division is right for you? Our current Division Chairs can answer all your questions:Division 1: Litigation & Dispute Resolution--Kelsey Funes, [email protected]

In addition to planning great activities and programs, the Divisions offer the best path to become involved in the Forum. Each of the Divisions offers opportunities for you to get involved and do it quickly. Getting involved will make your Forum experience richer. The Divisions are the clearest path to that rich experience.

I want to close with some thanks. First, my Fall meeting team garnered tremendous attendance numbers in DC and provided amazing content. The engaging speakers delivered top-notch content focused on all aspects of federal contracting. Bob Kendrick wowed the crowd as our diversity speaker. The reception at Planet Word Museum was incredible, despite my efforts at karaoke. Catherine Delorey, Brian Zimmerman, and their GC Liaison, Rob Ruesch, did a tremendous job orchestrating an informative, dynamic, and fun program. Credit also goes to the tireless efforts of our Fall Meeting marketing team of Larry Prosen, Jesse Keene, and Daniel Stewart for getting so many people to the meeting. Thanks to the efforts of the people above, and many more, we had an incredibly successful program.

Second, the Regional team continued the run of success with four fantastic programs across the country. Jean Terry, Jeff Reichard, and their GC Liaison, Kristen Sherwin, oversaw a gaggle of volunteers in the city teams to collect well over 100 speakers to inform and entertain attendees in Philadelphia, Atlanta,St. Louis, and San Francisco.

If you missed the program in DC, the Regional meeting, or the Las Vegas Midwinter meeting, don’t make the same mistake for the New Orleans Annual program.

As a preview, the Annual Meeting in New Orleans is “The Art and Science of Construction Litigation.” Whether you are a litigator, an in-house attorney supervising litigation, or attempting to avoid litigation, this meeting offers something for you. You will hear from accomplished in-house counsel, experienced judges, talented arbitrators, skilled litigators, trial/jury consultants, and even a couple TV personalities. The activities at the meeting will take full advantage of the culture, food, and music of New Orleans with a crawfish boil, a second-line parade, and visits to the French Quarter Festival. The team is assembling a dining and activity guide so you can fill your free time while in the Crescent City.

I hope to see you there!

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John Marshall Cook

Fox Rothschild LLP

John Marshall Cook is a partner at Fox Rothschild LLP and is based in Washington, DC.