Q&A WITH CONSTRUCTION LAW SECTION CHAIR COLM P. NELSON
Q. What is the most valuable benefit members get from joining your Section that they can’t get anywhere else?
The Construction Law Section is committed to serving as a resource to our members through programs, materials, and events we create to help inform them and get them up to speed on industry matters, including new legislation, hot button topics, and case law updates. For members with construction practices, our annual midyear, full-day conference offers a deep industry dive into matters of current significance to construction industry clients. We also offer CLE events throughout the year that can assist anyone navigating the complex terrain of construction law, including a general education roadshow presentation on construction law. Members also have access to several educational documents and construction contract form templates on our website that our Section has created; they are a great resource for general practitioners. We are also quite proud of the WSBA’s 2019 Washington Construction Law Deskbook,11 www.mywsba.org/PersonifyEbusiness/Default.aspx?TabID=251&productId=16141696. developed in collaboration with the Section, which offers 30 chapters of insightful industry matters specific to our state.
Q. What is a recent Section accomplishment or current project that you are excited about?
Our council is in the process of publishing updated residential construction contract forms, which, once approved by the WSBA, will be available on our Section website,22 www.wsba.org/legal-community/sections/construction-law-section. including new design-build contract forms. These timely enhancements showcase our commitment to providing relevant and useful materials that give practical support to our members. In addition, the Construction Law Section’s annual midyear CLE is coming up on June 10. This will be a day-long virtual presentation focusing on Washington public projects that will include a legislative update, construction law update, and perspectives from the bench. Section members will soon receive an invitation.
Q. What opportunities does your Section provide for members who are looking for a mentor or for somebody to mentor?
Currently, we have a list serve portal where members are able to ask questions and seek the help of their peers, which is an invaluable lifeline. We are a tight-knit Section with great organic comradery among members; so for those who are looking for industry support, there is no shortage of members happy to bend an ear and lend insight.
Q. What advice do you have for building a successful practice in the area of law related to your Section and how does membership in your Section help do that?
In my experience, the best way to attract clients is by word-of-mouth referrals, so you’ve got to be doing great work. In addition to anticipating your clients’ needs and communicating in a clear and timely manner, producing great work involves understanding the landscape of laws and industry regulations that may affect your clients. Our Section’s materials and CLEs provide valuable insights for those serving clients in the construction industry and connect practitioners to peers working in the same wheelhouse. Connections formed through our Section can help build your referral sources, and presenting at industry CLEs and joining the council is a great way to raise your profile.
Q. In addition to membership in your Section, what are the best ways to stay up on the developing law in this practice area?
When talking to your clients, think beyond their immediate needs and ask them about what is going on in their world. Staying engaged on industry trends is just as important as—if not more than—staying up to date on legal trends. The value of building relationships in the industry also cannot be overstated. The field of construction law is unique in that we do contract work and litigation. In either arena, building relationships with the attorneys you will be engaged with on the opposite side of a contract, or may face off against in litigation, opens the door to more civil exchanges and the possibility of more productive outcomes. Plus, our line of work is demanding; building quality relationships with peers and clients makes it rewarding and is key to preventing burnout.
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NEED TO KNOW
The Washington Construction Law Deskbook
This single-volume ready resource on every facet of construction law was developed in collaboration with the Construction Law Section.
- Editor-in-Chief: Ronald J. English
- Editorial Board: Jennifer McMillan Beyerlein, John Evans, Brett M. Hill, Robert L. Olson, Thomas H. Wolfendale
This and all WSBA deskbooks are available in print and eBook formats through a joint publishing relationship with LexisNexis®. To order, visit the LexisNexis store.