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February 24, 2017

Division 5 (General Contractors)

John Marshall Cook

Division 5 enters 2017 with a new name – “General Contractors” – but the same great group of enthusiastic members.  We are looking forward to an exciting year with informative and interesting programs for general contractors and those who represent them.

Mission of Division 5 – General Contractors

Division 5 provides a forum to discuss the legal issues encountered by general contractors throughout every stage of the construction process.  We concentrate on exchanging practical advice on managing construction risks and resolving project disputes.  Our group includes, among others, attorneys working in-house at general contractors, attorneys who represent general contractors, and consultants who provide services to the construction industry.  While we deal with issues of all sizes, we focus on issues encountered on large, complex construction matters.

Steering Committee / Liaisons

The backbone of Division 5 is its Steering Committee.  As the Chair, I rely mightily on the Steering Committee to help in all that the Division does.  Our current Steering Committee members are:  Amy Iannone, Charlie Rogers, Diane Utz, Brian Zimmerman, Ed Keidan, Joe Welborn, and our past Chair, Marilyn Klinger.

Division 5 – General Contractors liaisons to the Forum Standing Committees keep us informed of the events, debates and opportunities available throughout the Forum.  The current Liaisons are:  Technology – Amy Iannone; Diversity – Wayne DeFlaminis; SPEC – Marilyn Klinger, Pubs – David Kirschbaum; and YLD - Brian Zimmerman.

Monthly Teleconferences

Division 5 – General Contractors holds monthly teleconferences at 5pm Eastern on the third Tuesday of every month (except August and months with a National Meeting).  Our monthly teleconferences come in three varieties:

1)    The majority of our calls are content calls featuring a presenter on a subject of interest to general contractors and those who represent them.  Our most recent call included a presentation on Builder’s Risk Insurance issues by Amy Iannone, DPR Construction’s in house insurance executive.  She reviewed pertinent construction contract provisions and outlined coverage concerns.   Amy then shared some tips she has learned for managing these exposures.  These calls are designed to provide practical information that aids our members in representing their clients. 

2)    In late 2015, we started a new “Help Desk” series that alternates with the content calls.  These calls are designed to facilitate an unstructured discussion of any topics of interest to those on the call.  It is intended as an open forum where Division 5 members can seek feedback from their peers on relevant legal or practical issues. These discussions will allow our participants to draw on the hundreds of years of diverse experience in construction law of those on the phone calls.  If you have a sticky problem or a new issue on a case, this is a fantastic venue to hear how your peers view the situation. 

3)    One or two times a year, Division 5 – General Contractors has a business meeting only call.  These calls are scheduled as needed to handle planning that is not effectively handled before or after content calls.  While only the Steering Committee members are required for these calls, everyone is welcome.  The planning calls are an opportunity for those who want to get more involved to offer their support.

If you are interested in participating in any of our monthly teleconferences, please dial 866-646-6488, Passcode: 2402402336# at 5pm Eastern on the third Tuesday of every month (except August and months with a National Meeting) or contact the Division 5 Chair for more information.

Programs at National Meetings

Our live Lunch/Breakfast Programs at the National Meetings focus on unique topics intended to generate broader interest.  The topics range from the practical to the forward-looking.  Recent programs have covered practical advice on Pre-construction Risk Assessment to the use of drones in construction (including a live drone demo). 

Our Friday morning Division Breakfast program for Palm Desert certainly falls in the forward-looking bucket, as we will be discussing the Future of 3D Printing in Construction.  As 3D printing technology advances beyond novelty and into the global construction industry, it brings potential for new design freedoms, new building complexities, and enhanced efficiencies.  With these potential changes, 3D printing will also challenge the legal, regulatory, and labor regimes governing construction.  The presentation will discuss the technology and new uses in construction, as well as the upcoming legal challenges for the industry.  Division 2, 3 and YLD will be joining us for the presentation.  We hope to see you there.

Division 5 always hosts a Dutch Treat Division Dinner at the National Meetings.  As many of the Division leaders are self-identified “foodies,” our Division never misses a chance for a good meal.  We often seek out the finest or most interesting restaurant in town.  We all appreciate good company and a delicious meal.  Our Palm Desert dinner will be on Thursday, February 2nd at 8:15pm, following the Welcome Reception.  We will be enjoying dinner at the renowned Wally’s Desert Turtle, located a short drive away in Rancho Mirage.  Founded in 1978, Wally’s, a Desert icon for thirty-eight years, bills itself as a destination spot for “Hollywood celebrities, international dignitaries, and captains of industry.” We have reserved a private dining experience in the Sahara Lounge.  Seating is limited, so if you are interested in joining the Division 5 Dinner, please RSVP promptly by contacting my assistant, Carla Garcia, at [email protected] or 703-847-6282.

Finally, the General Contractors Division often plans additional activities at the National Meetings for smaller groups to discover some local flavor.  We have attended comedy shows, participated architectural tours and otherwise explored local favorites.  While these activities are not planned for every meeting (based on the schedule of Forum activities), we try to have some fun when the schedule permits.


A goal for 2017 is the reinvigoration of the Division 5 Newsletter.  The Newsletter contains a statement from the Chair, detailed articles on topics of note, and announcements of upcoming events.  All division members are encouraged to participate by submitting articles to the Newsletter.  This is a great opportunity for volunteering and getting involved in Division 5.  If you have ideas for the newsletter, please contact our Newsletter Editor, Diane Utz, at [email protected] for details.

New Members Welcome

The General Contractors Division is always looking to increase our roster of active members.  We do this by inviting members who want to be more involved to become part of our Working Committee.  The Working Committee is included in all of the business meetings and they are the first ones to whom I offer opportunities to present, organize or participate in Forum activities. 

My entire perspective on the Forum organization changed when I joined the Division 5 Working Committee ten years ago or more.  I transitioned from casual Forum meeting attendee to a true participant in the Forum.  The rewards of doing so have been innumerable. Gaining an appreciation for all the good work the Forum does and how it is all powered by volunteer attorneys and consultants.  The opportunities are there for you to make a similar discovery.

If you are interested in becoming part of the Division 5 Working Group, please contact me, John Cook, at [email protected].  We will get you on the list and your active participation can begin.

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John Marshall Cook

Division 5 Chair