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October 01, 2017

Message from Chair-Elect: I am Proud to be a Member of the Forum on Construction Law

Thomas L. Rosenberg

I am proud to be a member of the Forum on Construction Law.  Why?  It is the preeminent organization of construction lawyers in the world.  It is the place you want to be if you are a construction lawyer.  It is the number one provider of high quality educational programs.  It provides networking opportunities and it provides an opportunity for construction lawyers to hone and improve their skills.

I recently attended the American Bar Association Section Officers Committee (“SOC”) Meetings.  The SOC is made up of the leaders of the numerous sections, divisions and forums within the ABA.  A major takeaway for me was recognizing how much more we do in the Forum on Construction Law for our members.  No organization of our size within the ABA puts on the number of programs we do — the webinars, the podcasts, trial academy, regional programs, and the like.  I heard others discuss the challenges they have with putting on a meeting or two.  I heard others talk about the challenges they face getting members to volunteer to do things.  I sat back in marvel and thought how wonderful the members of the Forum on Construction Law are as we put in the time to deliver to each other the highest quality programs.  For these reasons, I am proud to be a member of the Forum on Construction Law.

The Forum does more.  When you tell others that we leave thousands of dollars for local food banks in the communities we visit, they look at you in amazement.  When you tell others about the service projects we have done, they are surprised.  When we tell others about our books, The Construction Lawyer, Under Construction, and the blogs that many of our divisions do, we are told to stop bragging.  At the recent SOC meeting, I had several people ask me, “does the Forum do a blog?”  I responded that we do so in the plural sense — we have multiple blogs that come out from the Forum’s numerous divisions and other groups.

I am proud to be a member of the Forum on Construction Law because of our commitment to the next generation of construction lawyers and to enhancing the diverse make up of our organization.  We have an extremely robust Young Lawyers Division (“YLD”).  YLD held a three-hour planning retreat at our recent meeting in Washington, D.C., in April 2017.  I was invited to sit in.  I observed the members of YLD actively engaged in thinking through what they can do as members of the Forum, how they can enhance their group, and how they can improve the Forum for everyone.  It was great.  Many people were talking at the same time.  They were talking over each other.  They were excited.  They were animated.  It was fantastic.  I turned to the gentleman sitting to my left several times and said “this is great.”  It was truly a wonderful experience, and I walked away with the biggest smile on my face realizing that the Forum is in fantastic hands with our next generation of leaders.

The Forum’s commitment to diversity is strong.  We are doing a good job in what was traditionally a male-dominated construction industry, to bring along female, African-American, Hispanic, gay, lesbian and other diverse construction lawyers into our organization.  We attend diverse Bar Association meetings to recruit members.  We award diversity scholarships and receive many more applicants for those scholarships than we can award.  I am proud of our efforts to make the Forum more inclusive and we will continue to strive to do better all the time in this regard.

I am proud to be a member of the Forum on Construction Law, yet at the same time we face challenges.  We have the most competent, dedicated staff persons that we have ever had.  They do a great job for us on a daily basis.  Yet, they work within an ABA bureaucracy that often frustrates their ability to be as good as they can be.  They work within an ABA structure that often slows down our efforts to accomplish everything we want to do.  They face these challenges on a daily basis, yet they continue to work zealously on our behalf.

We have challenges like all organizations with membership recruitment.  Millennials are not joining organizations like ours in the numbers that prior generations did.  We need to address that challenge head on.  The ABA is losing revenue and membership.  Those two factors will impact us.  Whether we like it or not, we are part of a larger organization, and the ABA’s challenges are our challenges too.  We will have to deal with conserving and better using our resources.  We will have to look at our costs and expenses.  We will have to face the fact that we need to do more with less.

I am honored and humbled to be the Chair-Elect of the best organization of construction lawyers in the world.  I look forward with great excitement to the next two years and working with all members of the Forum on Construction Law to maintain this organization as the best organization of construction lawyers anywhere.

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Thomas L. Rosenberg

Roetzel & Andress, Columbus, OH, Chair-Elect