October 01, 2017

Michael Kamprath — Flying High in the World of Construction

Catherine Bell

Michael Kamprath is an Assistant General Counsel at Tampa International Airport where he handles legal issues related to the Airport's 1.6 billion dollar master plan expansion project.  He is Board Certified in construction law by the Florida Bar.  Prior to coming on board at Tampa International, he practiced with a boutique construction law firm in Tampa where he was recognized by his peers with a Martindale Hubbell A/V rating and as a Super Lawyers Rising Star.

Michael has been active in the ABA Forum on Construction Law since 2011 and has served as chair of the Young Lawyer’s Division as an ‘At Large’ member of the Forum’s Membership Committee.  He serves as the Young Lawyers Division Liaison to the Forum.  He has served as the President of the 9 state (and District of Columbia) Southeast Region of Engineers Without Borders- USA and is the founder and inaugural co-chair of the ABA Section of State and Local Government Law’s Young Lawyers Committee. He was the primary author of an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the ABA. Michael was selected as the Forum on the Construction Industry's nominee for the ABA National Outstanding Young Lawyer Award in 2013 and was named a Finalist by the YLD for the award in 2014.  More recently, the Tampa Bay Business Journal gave Michael its Top Government/Non-Profit Corporate Counsel Award (2017).

In his spare time, Michael enjoys spending time with his wife and two young daughters and traveling. He has circumnavigated the globe and is diligently working to fulfill his lifelong dream of obtaining his private pilot license.  Under Construction is grateful to Michael for sharing his experience with the Forum.

What is your background and what inspired you to become an attorney?

I took a circuitous path to the bar. I studied economics and civil engineering at Case Western Reserve University and spent my junior year at the University of Sydney where I also got a job as a paralegal at a major global law firm.  That was my first real exposure to legal work.  I returned to Case and finished up my Masters in Civil Engineering and thought that I wanted to be an Urban Planner. I was admitted to a joint degree program at the University of Florida in Planning and Law and enjoyed law school so much that I focused on that and never looked back. 

Where did you go to law school and what did you do right after that?

After law school at UF, I began my practice of law at the Barron & Redding firm in Panama City, Florida where I quickly gained significant trial experience.

I then took a position with Thresher & Thresher in Tampa where I practiced solely in the field of construction law.  I gained experience in all aspects of construction law and represented public agencies, owners, general contractors, subcontractors and sureties in everything from construction litigation to transactions.

Following that, a unique opportunity came along to go in house and help Tampa International Airport with the largest construction program it has ever undertaken. 

What is your greatest source of professional pride? 

My greatest sources of professional pride are the successful projects that I help bring from cradle to grave.  One example is the 2MW Solar Array at Tampa International Airport.  I negotiated the deal that leased the space to Tampa Electric Company on behalf of the Airport and it has proved to be a very successful project for both the Airport and TECO.  It was TECO’s first solar generating facility and now they are planning over 600 MW in new Generating Capacity.  From the Airport’s standpoint, the energy that goes into the grid will offset the loads resulting from its new Automated People Mover that will run from its Consolidated Rental Car Facility to its Main Terminal.  Being able to play a role in projects like these is extremely rewarding.

What do you like best about your current position as Assistant General Counsel?

I love being part of the aviation industry.  This industry makes the world such a smaller place and brings people together.  I have the opportunity to work in the Main Terminal at Tampa International Airport.  Every day, I am fortunate to observe passengers preparing to embark on adventures large and small, family reunions and people from every walk of life.  Airports link their communities to the world and to play a role in making that happen is very rewarding.

Often I get to proactively solve potential problems.  For instance, the Authority has observed UAS flights near its airports that could potentially interfere with manned flight.  I drafted a land use regulation to give local law enforcement a mechanism to protect the area around the Authority’s four airports.

What is your favorite type of legal work?

Like most lawyers, I find trial work exciting and thrilling.  However, the most rewarding legal work is when I can guide my client through a thorny legal problem to an efficient resolution.  Very often, this happens on the front end of a deal when I need to help negotiate contractual terms. However, it can also happen when my client comes to me and they have reached a dead-end and I am able to offer a path to a solution.

How did you become involved with the ABA?

I have been a member since I graduated from law school but did not begin to attend meetings until I moved to Tampa.  As I attended more meetings, I became more involved. As I became more involved, I was asked to join a steering committee and then to be a Division Chair. 

I have followed a parallel path in the Section of State and Local Government Law and my participation in the Section has led me to become more involved in ABA leadership with the Section Officers Conference where I currently serve as one of its liaisons to the ABA Standing Committee on Membership.

What was the best professional advice you ever received?

Don’t Panic. – Douglas Adams.

What advice would you give to an attorney getting started practicing construction law?

Get active in the Forum and your local community. Network.  Give back to your community and the profession.  Take pride in what you do.  Never stop learning.

Keep fighting for what is right.  As lawyers, we have a higher calling to pursue justice.

Remember how you got to where you are and all the individuals who mentored and assisted you along the way.  Pay it forward. 

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Catherine Bell

Kiewit Corporation, Lenexa, KS, Division 10 (Transportation, Energy & Environment) and Young Lawyers Division