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Building Better Construction Contracts 2020

Speaker(s): Carmen Hernandez, Charles Pierce, Conor Tighe, David E. Suchar, Ken Cobleigh, Patrick M. Miller, Robin G. Banks, Y. Lisa Colon
Recorded on: Dec. 11, 2020
PLI Program #: 278694

Carmen Hernandez serves as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Clayco Inc., an architectural, engineering, design-build, and construction services firm, since 2013.   In that capacity, Carmen has advised Clayco and its subsidiaries in dozens of complex, world-class, commercial real estate construction and design-build projects from $30 million to $400 million, including hospitals, university campus buildings, manufacturing facilities, data centers, e-distribution facilities, and even rocket launching facilities. From contract negotiations to effectively resolving any project related disputes during and after project completion, Carmen leads the effort to achieve beneficial results for both the Clayco enterprise and its clients.

As General Counsel, she advises Clayco and its subsidiaries on a wide range of corporate, finance, employment, real estate, international procurement, supply chain and litigation matters related to Clayco’s day-to-day operations and projects across the United States and abroad. She leads Clayco’s legal team in corporate acquisitions and new ventures and all legal endeavors necessary for Clayco to deliver its projects on-time and as-promised to its clients while leading the industry with a first-class team of employees providing innovative, winning solutions for our clients and their communities. 

Prior to joining Clayco, Carmen (fka Carmen Lonstein) practiced law for more than 26 years at various prestigious law firms, culminating in her tenure as Chair of the Corporate Restructuring Practice for North America at Baker & McKenzie LLP.

Conor Tighe is the regional in house counsel for Turner Construction Company supporting Turner’s Great Lakes Region and Canadian operations. In addition to legal services responsibility, Conor is also responsible for insurance and risk management  including negotiating the appropriate insurance structures and responsibility for claim loss history for the region. Prior to receiving his law license attending night classes at John Marshall Law school, Conor worked in Turner’s operations for 9 years as an field engineer, superintendent and later, in charge of Turner’s cost accounting department in Chicago.

Conor’s legal experience includes negotiating contracts between Turner and its clients in a wide range of procurement settings including private public partnership (PPP), design-build, construction management at risk and construction management as advisor roles. In addition to the up front transactions, Conor assists Turner’s operations and carriers in navigating claims arising from the delivery of the Project.

Conor’s PPP experience includes social infrastructure transactions in both the US and Canadian markets. PPP responsibilities include supporting Clark Builders, an Alberta based subsidiary of Turner Construction Company. Conor has experience in negotiating Project Agreements (including applicable dropdowns), direct lenders agreement, interface agreements, lending documents, security packages including PPP performance bonds with liquidity elements and insurance packages required to support DBF and DBFM procurements.

In addition to his role at Turner, Conor is a founding board member of Embarc, Inc, a Chicago non-for profit. Embarc is a three-year program that provides community-driven, experienced-based learning opportunities to low-income High School students to inspire and prepare them for college and career success. During Conor’s involvement with Embarc, the organization has grown from supporting 25 students in 2010 academic year to 840 students in 18 schools for 2017 academic year.

David Suchar regularly represents clients in construction and insurance coverage disputes, government and internal investigations, and a variety of commercial litigation. In the 2019 and 2020 Who's Who Legal worldwide ranking of construction law "Future Leaders," David was one of three ranked practitioner from the United States, described as "an impressive trial lawyer whose practice spans the spectrum of construction matters from insurance to payment claims." The 2020 Chambers USA construction rankings published client commentary describing David as “an excellent attorney who comes up with creative ways of resolving complicated disputes while getting things accomplished that other attorneys could not manage to do,” and noting his “strengths are in mastery of insurance, understanding the construction industry, exceptional writing skills and aggressive negotiation.” David has been ranked by a variety of other attorney rating organizations including The Best Lawyers in America (2021) and SuperLawyers (2020).”

David has developed a niche national practice representing commercial policyholders in insurance coverage disputes, including on many of the largest construction projects and claims across the United States. Recent matters include the LaGuardia Airport Central Terminal Reconstruction Project (NYC); Las Vegas Raiders (Allegiant) Stadium Project; Second Avenue Subway Project (NYC); claims on Millennium Tower, Transbay Transit Center and Salesforce Tower (San Francisco); the Florida International University bridge collapse (Miami); and the NSA’s Utah Data Center Project. He frequently presents at conferences across the country on construction and insurance coverage issues, drawing from his experience on the Steering Committee for the ABA Forum on Construction Law's Division 7 (Insurance, Surety & Liens) and as contributing editor of The Construction Lawyer, the flagship ABA construction publication.

Before joining Maslon, David served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice and successfully represented the United States as lead counsel in hundreds of contested hearings in federal district court and oral arguments in the United States Court of Appeals. Prior to his DOJ service, David was a member of the litigation practice group at Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Chicago. In between college and law school, David served as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer and grant writer at Habitat for Humanity. He serves on the Regional Advisory Board for Tickets for Kids, a non-profit organization that provides free access for low income and at-risk kids to attend the arts, cultural, educational, and athletic venues in their communities.

Ken Cobleigh is a Managing Director and Counsel at the American Institute of Architects. Ken works with a team of lawyers, specialists and support staff, and the AIA Documents Committee, in developing and publishing AIA Contract Documents. Ken regularly conducts seminars and workshops on topics related to design and construction, as well as topics related to the AIA Contract Documents program, and is the author of several articles and other publications on such topics.

Ken is a graduate of the University of Maryland, where he earned both his B.A. and J.D. with honors.

Prior to joining the AIA in 2006, Ken practiced for eighteen years as a construction attorney in private practice Maryland law firms. During that time, he represented owners, contractors, subcontractors and design professionals in a number of dispute resolution forums, including State and Federal Courts and administrative agencies, mediation and arbitration. Ken is admitted in state and federal courts in the State of Maryland.


Ms. Banks focuses her practice in all areas of construction law, from contract drafting and negotiation to pre-litigation dispute resolution and complex construction disputes involving mechanics liens, payment bond claims, and construction defect claims.  She represents clients across the construction spectrum, including design professionals, owners, construction managers, contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers.  In addition to her construction practice, Ms. Banks serves as an associate outside legal counsel to the AIA Contract Documents Committee and has been directly involved with updating the 2019 Construction Manager Documents, 2017 AIA Owner-Contractor Agreements, and 2014 AIA Design-Build Documents, as well as developing the 2015 AIA Teaming Agreement.

Ms. Banks has authored publications and spoken on topics such as the AIA’s 2019 construction manager documents, risks of P3’s for design professionals, teaming agreements, contract considerations for design professionals and contractors, understanding the general conditions of a construction contract, innovative design - risks and rewards for the design professional, issues affecting Maryland design professionals, payment bonds and mechanics liens, and construction changes and extras.  

Ms. Banks is a member of the American Bar Association Forum on the Construction Industry, Maryland State Bar Association, and District of Columbia Bar Association, and an Allied Member of the National American Institute of Architects.  She is admitted to practice in Maryland state and federal courts and the District of Columbia.  She received her B.A. degree, with honors, in Economics, from the University of Delaware, Phi Beta Kappa, and her J.D. degree, with honors, from the University of Baltimore School of Law.

Patrick Miller partners with clients to maximize value in executing major projects in the ever-evolving construction industry. Patrick is a co-leader of Faegre Drinker's Chicago team.

Patrick is experienced in public infrastructure, design-build and P3 procurement. He serves on the Design-Build Institute of America’s (DBIA) Legal Committee and is one of few lawyers in the nation approved to teach DBIA’s Contracts and Risk course. He has extensive experience with heavy civil and highway construction, P3 projects, and real estate development.

Patrick also represents clients in construction and real estate litigation, helping resolve disputes in Chicago, Indiana and throughout the country. He has represented clients in change and delay claims, construction defect matters, commercial foreclosure and workout litigation, among other issues.

Patrick graduated from Marquette University Law School and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

For over 30 years, Charles (Chip) R. Pierce Jr., the assigning partner in the Construction Practice Group, has counseled a wide range of construction industry clients – owners, developers, construction managers, contractors, owner representatives, manufacturers, suppliers, architects, engineers and designers – in their business dealings and contractual relationships. Clients appreciate how Chip’s straightforward, cool-headed approach continually delivers outstanding results, whether he is negotiating construction contracts or resolving complex disputes. He is a trained mediator and frequent lecturer on construction agreements and mechanic’s liens.

Transactional Matters

  • Represented the owner of a 20,000 square foot private residence in NYC in connection with the complete renovation of the home, including drafting and negotiating all of the numerous design, construction, vendor and neighbor access agreements
  • Advised numerous clients regarding the impact of COVID-19 on their construction projects.
  • Represented several high-net-worth residential owners in new construction or renovation of their homes in Manhattan and Long Island
  • Drafted and negotiated construction and license agreements for a developer of a new $200 million condominium building in New York City
  • On behalf of a developer, drafted and negotiated complex design and construction agreements for the renovation of a 250,000 square foot mixed-use project in Manhattan
  • Represented a health care center in connection with its expansion and renovation of their facilities in Queens, NY, including drafting and negotiating construction agreements and related agreements with various public agencies
  • On behalf of a national real estate development firm, drafted and negotiated design and construction agreements for a new office building in Michigan and conversion of an existing building in Kansas, as well as multiple buildings in New York State
  • Represented the purchaser of a large movie theatre in Brooklyn, including the acquisition of the property, building and construction loans, and the design and construction agreements for the renovation of the theatre

Dispute Resolution

  • Recovered through arbitration almost 100% of the claim of a custom metal and glass façade trade contractor in connection with the construction of a $60 million high-end luxury residence
  • Successfully resolved through litigation a dispute concerning the duration of a $6 million performance bond and the security posted to secure the bond
  • Resolved through litigation a dispute involving more than 50 alleged building code violations and a separate action brought by a municipality seeking injunctive relief against our client
  • Resolved without resort to litigation a complex matter involving the default of a bonded contractor on a $6 million project in Kansas City
  • Obtained the complete dismissal of a personal injury suit against a construction manager and recovered attorneys’ fees from the owner

Y. Lisa Colon is a partner in the Fort Lauderdale office of Smith Currie & Hancock LLP. Lisa is Board Certified in Construction law by the Florida Bar. She is also a Certified Mediator and Arbitrator. Lisa represents owners, contractors, subcontractors, design professionals in all matters of public and private construction, real estate development and local government contracting issues. Lisa is deeply immersed in matters relating to socio-economic programs such as small and disadvantaged business programs.

Lisa lectures on a variety of construction, government contracting and real estate industry topics. She serves as General Counsel for the National Association of Minority Contractors. She advocates for diversity in the construction industry.

Lisa is a fellow of the Construction Lawyers Society of America and a former fellow of the American Bar Association, Forum on Construction Law. She was recognized as a Super Lawyer Rising Star in 2012. Lisa received her B.A. from the University of Miami and her J.D., cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law.