March 16, 2020

Division Corner

Under Construction Editors

Under Construction wanted to provide an update on what the Forum’s Divisions are up to, as getting involved in a Division is the best way to maximize your membership in the Forum. 

The Forum has 14 Divisions.  They are often referred to as the life-blood of the Forum, as they provide a network whereby members may connect, and gain inroads to learning, leadership, and speaking/writing opportunities. The 14 Divisions are:

Division 1: Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Division 2: Contract Documents
Division 3: Design
Division 4: Project Delivery & Construction Technology
Division 5: General Contractors
Division 6: Labor & Employment
Division 7: Insurance, Surety & Liens
Division 8: International Construction
Division 9: Subcontractors & Suppliers
Division 10: Transportation, Energy & Environment
Division 11: In-House Counsel
Division 12: Owners & Project Finance
Division 13: Government Construction
Young Lawyers

Click on any of the above links, and you will be taken to the webpage of the Division. 

In addition to the Division webpages, each Division has an ABA Connect page where members regularly interact with each other.  JOIN a Division ABA Connect Community by visiting https://connect.americanbar.org/

While a variety of events and activities are in the works with the Divisions, here is a summary of what some of the Divisions are up to right now.  If you see something that catches your eye, reach out to the Division Chair. 

Division 1: Litigation & Dispute Resolution

Chair: Cassidy Rosenthal (crosenthal@stites.com)

Division 1 is recruiting new team members and contributing authors for its blog, The Dispute Resolver.  Our blog has an incredible amount of content on topics involving litigation, arbitration, mediation, and other aspects of dispute resolution. Over the life of the blog, we have had over 125,000 views!  If you are interested in contributing an article or joining the editorial team, please reach out to Cassidy Rosenthal by April 22, 2020. 

Division 1 schedules monthly business planning calls on the third Monday of every month.  Attending these calls as a “Friend of D1” provides opportunities to volunteer, speak, and/or write at upcoming Division programs.  Contact Cassidy to be added to the “Friends of D1” list. 

Division 2: Contract Documents

Chair: Karen Denys (karen.denys@dbr.com)

Division 2, Contract Documents, had a “frightfully” good time at the Fall Meeting in Philadelphia!  After the Welcome Reception at Reading Terminal Market, Division 2 visited the Eastern State Penitentiary’s “Terror Behind the Walls” exhibit.  While a couple of the members of Division 2 were forced away from the group (and into cages), they thankfully all made it out alive and enjoyed a drink or two at Al Capone’s Speak Easy. 

Division 2 strives to demonstrate that transactional work and Contract Documents do not have to be boring.  Division 2 members get together at each Forum conference for at least one fun event.  Division 2 has attended a Lakers/Clippers game, belly-danced on the tables at a Greek restaurant, and hit the batting cages and bowling lanes.  At the Midwinter Meeting in Tucson, Division 2 got to know its colleagues at Division 6 (Workforce Management & Human Resources) a little better with a speed networking lunch session.  While Division 2 knows how to have fun, it also knows how important it is to broaden its members’ networks and enhance their practice.  Division 2 holds monthly conference calls on the second Thursday of each month at 12 p.m. (Eastern Time).  Approximately 20 minutes of each call is dedicated to a “hot topic” (e.g., waiver of subrogation, limitations of liability, and contingency clauses), wherein Division 2 members openly discuss the pros/cons of these provisions, war stories, and drafting strategies.  Division 2 also publishes a bi-annual newsletter that highlights what AIA, ConsensusDocs, EJCDC and DBIA are up to and the new and revised contract forms that are planned.  To learn more about Division 2, contact Karen Denys, Division 2 Chair, at karen.denys@dbr.com or 609-716-6698.

Division 3: Design

Chair: Karen Erger (kerger@lockton.com)

The mission of Division 3, Design, is to provide practical knowledge concerning the problems and needs, risks and rewards, and duties and liabilities of each of the parties involved in the design process.  Division 3 accomplishes that goal through a variety of means, including the following:  

  • Hot Topics calls and webinars on current issues affecting design practice and design professionals.  Division 3’s 2019 Hot Topics presentations are listed below: 
    • Design Professionals’ Challenges with Geotechnical Engineers
    • Design Professionals and Fiduciary Duty
    • Delegated Design
    • Statute of Limitations: Generali-U.S. Branch v. Lachel & Associates, Inc.
    • Surety Bonds for Project Success
    • North Carolina’s New Anti-Indemnity Law
    • Standard of Care – What Does It Really Mean?
  • 50-state surveys of law relevant to design practice, including the following:
    • Firm Licensure Requirements for Architectural and Engineering Firms 
    • Licensed Design Professional Stamping and Sealing Obligations
  • Presentations at breakfast and lunch sessions at the Forum national meetings.  These have included a discussion of whether offering an apology is an effective strategy in construction mediation (Annual Meeting 2018), a roundup of statutory solutions to “duty to defend” indemnity clauses (Fall Meeting 2018), and a case study of the Kansas City Skywalk collapse (Midwinter Meeting 2019).
  • Information exchange through our Division 3/Design webpage at ABA Connect, where Division 3 members ask and answer questions about issues related to design practice, share new legal developments, and more.

A signature event of Division 3 is an annual outreach to design professionals in the community in which one of the Forum’s national meetings takes place.  This event comprises a networking reception and short informational program, and is typically well attended by both local architects and engineers and Division 3 members.

Fellowship and fun are the hallmark of Division 3, and its dinners at the Forum’s national meetings are always a blast.  Frequently, Division 3 also organizes a special tour or activity for its members and friends, such as the Los Angeles Conservancy Tour of Downtown LA (Midwinter Meeting 2019).

Division 3’s monthly calls take place on the first Wednesday of every month at 2 p.m. (Eastern Time), and all are welcome to join.  Unless otherwise announced (a different number is used for webinars), the call-in number is 866-646-6488, and the passcode is 9034065734.  Please contact Karen Erger, Division 3 Chair, at kerger@lockton.com with any questions.

Division 4: Project Delivery & Construction Technology

Chair: Tracy James (tjames@lawhssm.com)

Division 4, Project Delivery & Construction Technology, has monthly calls on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 12 p.m. (Eastern Time).  Each month, Division 4 focuses on a particular topic relevant to its mission to provide a forum for the study and discussion of legal issues related to varying systems of project delivery and construction technology. For example, the topic for our May 2020 call is “The Emerging Role of Robots in the Construction Industry” presented by Brett Holmes, MBP, and our June 2020 call will be on Virtual Realty Modeling.  

In addition to Division 4’s monthly calls, at each Forum conference, Division 4 members get together for a social dinner, and have a lunch presentation on topics germane to Division 4.  For materials or information related to past presentations, or to get involved with Division 4, individuals may contact Tracy James, Division 4 Chair, at tjames@lawhssm.com.  For future calls, the call-in number is 866-646-6488, and the access code is 6835243965.

Division 6: Labor & Employment

Chair: Jodi Taylor (jotaylor@brasfieldgorrie.com)

Joining forces with the Membership Committee, Division 11, and the Young Lawyers Division, Division 6 presented a CLE in Philadelphia entitled, “The Cannabis Question – What Construction Industry Employers Need to Know About Drug Testing, Policies, and Pitfalls Arising from Medical and Recreational Marijuana Laws.”  Division 6 member Christine Burke, a partner with Lorenger & Carnell PLC in Alexandria, Virginia, presented the program, and Phillip Russell, a partner with Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. in Tampa, Florida, co-authored the paper.  The event preceded the Fall Meeting in Philadelphia, and was a great success.  Thank you to all who were involved. 

Be on the lookout for Division 6’s regular column in Under Construction.  Each publication will include an article on a relevant labor and employment issue affecting the construction industry.  Division 6 is pleased to share its first installment in this edition discussing situations where a general contractor may be required to pay a subcontractor’s wages entitled, “General Contractors: Know Your Subcontractors (and Sub-subcontractors) or Pay the Price or, in this case, the Wage, Penalties, and Other Damages”, written by Jessica A. Hill, Esq., Dave O’Mara Contractor, Inc., North Vernon, Indiana.

Division 6 enjoyed a speed networking lunch with Division 2 during the Midwinter Meeting.  Many business cards were exchanged, and all agreed it was a great way to meet Forum members outside their own division.  Later that evening, Division 6 members met and mingled with members of Division 3, Division 9 and Division 12 during a gorgeous dessert dinner.

Division 8: International Construction

As part of the Forum’s continuing mandate to increase transparency within the divisions, Richard Wong - Chair of Division 8 (International Construction) created an organizational chart illustrating the various pathways of engagement using the Forum’s focus on “People”, “Programs”, and “Publications”.

Examples of such roles (with more detailed descriptions) include: member engagement, marketing, hot topic creation, national meeting activities, and generation of new ideas.

A copy of the chart is available on the Division 8 site or by contacting Richard directly at rwong@osler.com.

Division 9: Subcontractors & Suppliers

Chair: Neale Johnson (ntjohnson@foxrothschild.com)

Division 9, Subcontractors & Suppliers, holds monthly calls on the third Wednesday of the month at 12 p.m. (Eastern Time), except for July or months in which a Forum national meeting takes place.  During each call, Division 9 presents a 30-minute program on topics of interest to lawyers representing subcontractors and suppliers.  At national meetings, the Steering Committee meets to plan future events.  Typically, Division 9 also hosts a lunch presentation during the meeting and an evening social event.  To get involved, join the Division 9 ABA Connect community and call Neale Johnson at 336-378-5319 or ntjohnson@foxrothschild.com.  Division 9’s schedule for the rest of the 2020 ABA fiscal year appears below:

5/20/2020
Monthly Call:  Subcontractor Liens against Projects Contracted with Nonowners (e.g., Tenants, Developers, and Undisclosed Agents)

6/17/2020
Steering Committee Call (Report on Forum Planning Retreat)

7/15/2020
NO CALL—SUMMER BREAK.  May swap with 6/17/2020 call, depending on Forum Retreat scheduling.  New Division Chair to schedule individual calls with Steering Committee members

8/19/2020
Monthly Call:  Impact of Statutes of Limitations and Repose on Construction Defect Claims against Subcontractors

Division 10: Transportation, Energy & Environment

Chair: Ben Patrick (bpatrick@grsm.com)

In 2020, Division 10 will explore the future of transportation, energy, and the impacts of environmental change on the construction industry.  Developing, disruptive technologies have already begun to impact these sectors of the construction industry, and the pace of change is expected to accelerate for the foreseeable future.  Division 10’s monthly teleconferences will feature speakers from these industries, who will explore and explain these changes.

2x4x10 is the Division 10 Newsletter. It is published twice a year and is focused on publishing articles related to the energy, transportation and environmental industries, with a focus on legal developments and issues facing those industries.  Those interested in submitting articles can contact Asha Echeverria, aecheverria@bernsteinshur.com.  

Division 13: Government Construction

Chair: Paul Varela (pvarela@vlmglaw.com)

Division 13, Government Construction, is devoted to the unique legal issues and challenges arising out of federal, state, and municipal public construction contracting.  Although Division 13 is the Forum’s newest division, it boasts an extremely active and energetic membership.  New members are welcome to join and become active in speaking or writing for the Division.  

Division 13 has monthly Steering Committee calls on the second Wednesday of each month at 12 p.m. (Eastern Time), and all are welcome to participate.  

Members of Division 13 are encouraged to present “Hot Topics” relating to government construction on these calls.  Division 13 also publishes a quarterly newsletter on topics of interest to government construction, with articles contributed by its members.  

At the Forum conferences, Division 13 members gather for lunch and make presentations, sometimes jointly with other divisions (for example, at the Midwinter Meeting in Tucson, Division 13 and Division 12 jointly presented “The Tip of the Spearin: Notes from the Cutting Edge of Design-Related Owner Liability”).  Following the Thursday evening reception at the Forum conferences, Division 13 typically hosts a networking event for its members – at the Midwinter Meeting, Division 13 hosted draft cocktails and appetizers at a speakeasy.  

To get involved with Division 13, please contact Paul Varela, Division 13 Chair, at pvarela@vlmglaw.com.  For future Steering Committee calls, the number is 866-646-6488, and the conference code is 9436107144.

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