The ABA Forum on Construction Law is a diverse melting pot and home to thousands of attorneys working in nearly every facet of Construction Law. Our members include sole practitioners and attorneys at large firms, people living in large cities and rural areas, and those practicing in the United States and abroad. Despite our many individual differences, we are all united by a common goal to share best practices and work together to build the best construction lawyers. In pursuing this goal, together we focus on the 3 P’s - Programs, Publications and, most importantly, People.
The Forum traditionally has three national programs – Fall, Mid-Winter, and Annual Meetings. These are held in different locations and range from one-and-a-half days to two-and-ahalf days. Organizing and preparing these programs require an extensive amount of effort. The planning begins eighteen months to two years in advance of the meeting, and a team typically is comprised of a Governing Committee Liaison, two Co-Chairs, Marketing Liaison, Session Coordinators and, of course, world class speakers. The written materials are top notch, and each program contains multiple opportunities to learn from and get to know one another. Attendance at these meetings range from 350 to nearly 700 attendees (Boston 2017 and New Orleans 2018 tied at 697 attendees).
Recognizing that not everyone can attend a national meeting, the Forum has Regional Meetings, which focus on a specific topic, and are conducted simultaneously at five or more locations across the nation.
Given the increased difficulty for newer attorneys to obtain trial experience, the Forum developed The Trial Academy, which is an intensive hands-on course. There around thirty participants learn from seasoned trial lawyers and conduct a trial on a hypothetical case study in an actual courtroom.
Understanding that not everyone is able to travel to a meeting, years ago (long before COVID), the Forum created the Special Programs and Education Committee (SPEC). The SPEC Committee pioneered the distant learning programming of the Forum, providing Forum-quality programming through conference calls and webinars.
The Forum also publishes many books and articles written by our experts on nearly every aspect of construction law. The first title was Sweet on Construction Law in 1997. Since that time, the Forum has published 33 books and generated hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last 20 years. Because some of these books are treatises, used by law schools across the nation, they cement the Forum as the go-to resource for law schools.
The Forum has two periodicals – The Construction Lawyer and Under Construction. The Construction Lawyer is comprised of law-review quality articles and, along with the books published by the Forum, propel the Forum as the thought leader in construction law. Alternatively, Under Construction provides timely and relevant articles, which are more condensed, allowing the reader to quickly digest an issue. Both are must-read publications, which I always look forward to receiving and often refer to in my daily practice.
Of all that the Forum offers, our most valuable resource is our members. We invest heavily in educating our members and create multiple opportunities for members to be involved. The Forum contains thirteen Divisions focusing on different areas of construction law plus the YLD Division, each with a Chair and Steering Committee, plus ten additional Standing Committees. These not only provide ways for members to dive into parts of the organization they are interested in, but also provide many opportunities to serve. When serving on a committee, you will quickly find that the people are the best and most important aspect of the Forum! Over the years, I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting and becoming close friends with lawyers and industry professionals from across the nation. Forum members are incredibly competent and generously willing to share their experience and insight. The industry consultants are masters of their areas of expertise. The attorney members are the most collegial you will find and, even when opposite a fellow member in a case or transaction, they are the most respectful people to work with or against.
As Chair-Elect, I look forward to working with our existing members and hope to increase our membership with even more dynamic and diversified members. If you are not yet involved, I encourage you to do so; it will become one of the best professional and personal decisions you will ever make. It is rewarding to know that even though we are involved in a challenging profession, the Forum melting pot provides the recipe that produces The Best Construction Lawyers, who also become great friends and colleagues.