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Building Better Construction Contracts 2014

Speaker(s): Alison Ashford, Brian Perlberg, David J. Hatem, PC, Josh M. Leavitt, Patrick J. O'Connor, Jr., Robyn L. Miller, Salvatore J. Perrucci, Suzanne Harness
Recorded on: Jun. 25, 2014
PLI Program #: 50451

Current Responsibilities:

Sal Perrucci is Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Aon Construction and Infrastructure Services Group where he leads the Integrated Capital Risk, Enterprise Risk Management and Infrastructure Solutions / Alternative Project Delivery business strategies. Mr. Perrucci has pioneered global, public-private initiatives to provide integrated capital and insurance finance solutions for Owners, Sponsors, Lenders, Developers, Designers, Builders and Operators. He has extensive experience in assisting many of the A-E-C industry’s top companies in managing some of the most challenging risk exposures.

Special Areas of Expertise:

Mr. Perrucci is an internationally recognized specialist in integrated capital risks; professional & environmental risks; enterprise risk management; financial contingency risks; credit enhancement vehicles; captive insurance companies; alternative funding & transfer mechanisms; and complex project insurance & risk management programs. He advises leading clients with advanced risk capital solutions and is a frequent speaker on public & private sector financial risk management strategies. Mr. Perrucci has:

  • Led in the design & placement of risk management solutions for major projects with total construction values in excess of USD$ 167 Billion with a focus on complex infrastructure and P3 transactions (e.g. airports, education, government, healthcare, ports, military housing, rail, roads, stadiums, technology, etc.)
  • Led in the development and implementation of risk management programs of over 35% of the top 100 global designers & contractors.
  • Led as a market innovator in developing new products and solutions including the advent of the combined professional & pollution coverage format, “occurrence” form contractor professional liability and integrated capital & insurance risk financing to address the interrelated exposures of alternative project delivery.

Mr. Perrucci received a Bachelor’s degree with a major in Political Science and Economics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.


Published numerous articles on professional, environmental, design-build, alternative funding and integrated financial risk management.

Served as Chairman of the Insurance & Bonding Committee of the Design-Build Institute of America which provides assistance on legal, contractual, insurance, surety and risk management issues relating to “design-build-plus” project delivery.

Served on Board of Directors and Committees of the National Council for Public-Private Partnerships to promote the education, understanding and use of P3 project delivery.

Served regularly as a task force advisor to industry associations (e.g. ABC, ACEC, AGC, CFMA, DBIA, EJCDC, HWAC, NCPPP, etc.) on insurance and risk management strategies.

Alison Ashford is a partner in the New York office of Seyfarth Shaw LLP and a member of the firm’s national construction practice.

Ms. Ashford has acted for the full spectrum of stakeholders in large scale public and private infrastructure, and energy, resources and mining projects in the United States and around the world.

She has solid experience in the representation of clients involved in the procurement of public projects, including via public-private partnership, in the sectors of economic infrastructure (rail, aviation, transportation, waste water and desalination projects) and social infrastructure (education, housing and health projects). Key recent achievements include the representation of the design-build joint venture member of the private consortium selected to redevelop the LaGuardia Airport Central Terminal Building in New York and the representation of the design-build joint venture member of the private consortium appointed to develop the James A. Farley Building in New York into the new Moynihan Station.

Ms. Ashford also regularly represents developers (including REITs and joint ventures) and contractors in the drafting and negotiation of project agreements for private commercial, retail, high-rise residential and industrial buildings and facilities. An important recent achievement includes the representation of a large United States-based REIT in the drafting and negotiation of project agreements for the redevelopment of hotel and lodging properties located across the United States and around the globe.

Ms. Ashford represents developers and large contractors within the energy, resources and mining sectors, including on iron ore, gas, methanol, fertilizer, civil and earthworks, manufacturing and pipeline projects. Ms. Ashford also advises investors and developers on renewable energy projects in the United States. A key recent engagement includes representation of the engineering, procurement and construction contractor in the development of the largest fertilizer plant in the United States.

Ms. Ashford is a regular speaker at industry conferences and events in the field of private and public project procurement and has prepared numerous papers and presentations for domestic and international industry publications.

Josh advises his clients on a broad range of construction law matters, including disputes, contracts, and counseling on industry risk. Chair of the Much Shelist Construction Law practice, he has more than 30 years of construction law experience and is an elected Fellow of the American College of Construction Lawyers and Past President of the Society of Illinois Construction Attorneys.

Josh has significant knowledge of the construction industry and represents several worldwide leaders in the construction space, as well as middle-market companies. He has handled all manner of construction law matters for both domestic and foreign clients across the full spectrum of industry participants, including owners, contractors, architects, engineers, suppliers, manufacturers, developers and commercial landlords and tenants. He has handled matters involving dozens of building systems and technologies, on a variety of building and project types.

On the disputes side, Josh has handled defective design and construction, scheduling, delay, disruption, interference, efficiency loss, out of sequence work, cost overrun, mechanics lien, wrongful termination, extra work, change order, fraud, lending, insurance coverage, bonding, green building/sustainability, commercial lease and other disputes. Josh is a frequent user of alternative dispute resolution techniques, including creative forms of mediation and arbitration. He has presented and cross-examined numerous expert witnesses, including structural, mechanical, soil, instrumentation, control system, process and chemical engineers; material scientists; roofing, HVAC, and other building system consultants; standard of care, estimating, scheduling and damages experts; and numerous design professionals and builders.

On the transaction side, Josh counsels clients on delivery system selection, contract negotiation and risk management. Josh has drafted, negotiated and/or advised clients regarding a wide range of construction, design and EPC project agreements. Josh also advises clients on contractor and A/E licensing matters. Josh is often called upon to identify and mitigate risk in connection with M&A transactions in the construction and engineering sectors.

Josh holds a B.A. in Economics from Yale University and a J.D. from New York University School of Law. For over 25 years, Josh has been a speaker and author at PLI programs and is proud to be a national co-chair of the PLI Commercial Real Estate Institute for the past four years.

PATRICK J. O’CONNOR, JR.  Partner with the international law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels, LLP in its Minneapolis, Minnesota office.  He received his B.A. degree from Hamline University in 1975 and his JD degree from The American University in 1981.  He was law clerk to Miles W. Lord, Chief Judge of the Federal District Court for the District of Minnesota.  Mr. O’Connor’s practice focuses on construction, suretyship and insurance.  He has served as litigation or coverage counsel for contractors, owners, design professionals, and product suppliers in disputes venued in over 25 states and Canada.  He also acts as a mediator, arbitrator and expert witness in construction and insurance disputes.  Mr. O’Connor is co-author of Bruner & O’Connor on Construction Law (West Group 2002), a twelve-volume construction law treatise.  He was an adviser to the American Law Institute’s Restatement of the Law Third, Suretyship and Guaranty.  He works closely with a number of industry organizations on Building Information Modeling and Integrated Project Delivery initiatives.  Mr. O’Connor currently is Co-Chair of the BIMForum’s Legal Subforum.  Since 2007, Mr. O’Connor has counseled the AIA’s Documents Committee in connection with numerous contract forms.  Mr. O’Connor has held LEED AP (New Construction) certification through the U.S. Green Building Council.  He is a Fellow, former member of the Executive Committee, and Past-President of the American College of Construction Lawyers.  Mr. O’Connor is also a former member of the Governing Committee for the ABA Forum on the Construction Industry.  Mr. O’Connor is listed in “The Best Lawyers in America,” “International Who’s Who of Construction Lawyers,” and “Minnesota Super Lawyers.”  (Contact Pat O’Connor at 612-766-7413 or email at

Robyn Miller is Chief Counsel, Americas, for AECOM Technology Corporation, a global architecture, engineering, and program and construction management firm.  She began her legal career with Los Angeles construction firm Monteleone & McCrory, where she litigated cases for contractors and developers.  In 1995, she left private practice to go in-house with Daniel, Mann, Johnson, & Mendenhall (now known as AECOM Services, Inc.), a wholly owned subsidiary of AECOM Technology Corporation.

At AECOM, Ms. Miller has focused on professional liability and risk management for architects and engineers.  She is particularly interested in issues related to standard of care, Building Information Modeling, sustainable architecture, professional licensing, and creative dispute resolution.  She participates in the AGC BIM Forum, and was part of the group that drafted the initial ConsensusDOCs 301 BIM Addendum. She is also part of the AIA Large Firm Roundtable Chief Legal Officer group and has participated in the review and update of various AIA Documents.  Her current duties include overseeing AECOM’s Regional and Business Line counsel across North and Latin America.  She also sits on the company's Americas Leadership Committee.

Ms. Miller is a Fellow in the American College of Construction Lawyers and was elected to the Council for the Yosemite Conservancy (formerly Yosemite Fund), the primary nonprofit fundraising organization for Yosemite National Park.

Ms. Miller received her B.A. from Pomona College, and her J.D. from the University of Los Angeles, School of Law.

Licensed both as an architect and an attorney, Suzanne Harness focuses her legal practice on contract formation.  She provides risk management and other consulting services through Harness Project Solutions, LLC. She is an arbitrator on the American Arbitration Association’s panel of construction neutrals.

From 2002 through 2008 she was responsible for the content of AIA Contract Documents including the 2004 Design-Build Family, the 2007 revisions to the A201 Family, and new agreements for digital data transmission, Building Information Modeling, and Integrated Project Delivery. Prior to joining the American Institute of Architects, she practiced in the construction practice group of the Washington, DC office of Seyfarth Shaw LLP. Earlier in her career as an architect she served as an in-house owner’s representative for public and private owners, including the US General Services Administration, and as a project architect with architecture firms in the Washington, DC area.

An active writer and speaker, she is the author of the article Owner-Generated Agreements, in the 15th Edition of the AIA Handbook of Professional Practice published in 2013 and Public Private Partnerships: Managing the Opportunities and Risks for Zurich North America in 2015. She also authored chapters in books published by the American Bar Association in 2014: Integrated Project Delivery, Tri-Party Agreements, and Other Collaborative Arrangements, published in the book Construction Subcontracting; and Initial Decision Maker, published in Construction ADR. Recent speaking topics have included public-private partnerships, design-build and Engineer-Procure-Construct contracting, modern alternatives to the professional liability practice policy, and enterprise risk management. In September 2013, she presented “Design-Build Then and Now” at the ABA Forum on the Construction Industry’s Fall Meeting. In June 2014 she presented “What’s Hot in Design-Build” at the Practicing Law Institute’s annual construction conference in New York City.       

She received a B.S. in Architecture and M. Arch. from the Catholic University of America, and J.D. from the George Washington University Law School. She is a member of Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society, as well as the American Institute of Architects, the American Bar Association’s Forum on the Construction Industry, and the Dispute Resolution Board Foundation.

Brian Perlberg is the Senior Counsel for Construction Law & Contract Documents at the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). He serves as AGC’s lead in-house attorney for construction law and contract matters. He also serves as the Executive Director & Counsel for ConsensusDocs, a coalition of 40+ construction organizations dedicated to drafting best practice construction contracts.  Mr. Perlberg serves on the ABA Forum on the Construction Industry Steering Committee for the Contract Documents, the Advisory Board to Construction SuperConference, and WPL Publishing.

David J. Hatem is a partner in the Boston-based law firm Donovan Hatem LLP. Nationally recognized for his expertise in representing engineers, architects and construction management professionals, David leads the firm’s Professional Practices Group which serves design professionals. David has been practicing law for approximately 40 years and has served as ACEC/MA Counsel since 1988. In recognition of his extraordinary career dedicated to the engineering sector, David received the Engineering Center Education Trust 2016 “Leadership in Professional Practice Legal Services” award and the 2008 ACEC Distinguished Service Award. David teaches Legal Aspects of Engineering at Tufts University and Legal Aspects of Civil Engineering at Northeastern University Graduate School of Engineering. He has authored and edited numerous articles and publications in his field of expertise, including the second edition of Public-Private Partnerships and Design-Build: Opportunities and Risks for Consulting Engineers, Subsurface Conditions: Risk Management for Design and Construction Management Professionals, Design-Build Subsurface Projects, and Megaprojects: Challenges and Recommended Practices.