Skip to Main Content

Construction Academy Content Archive

Providing the industry with an understanding of the legal fundamentals.

Husch Blackwell’s Construction Academy was developed with the belief that value is unique to the client, knowledge is created in application, and both need a forum of partners to share what has been learned in order to propel organizations forward. Here is a digest of our thought leadership.

Table of Contents

Industry Leader Insights

Josh Wight, President, BlueScope Construction, Inc.

Josh Wight is president of BlueScope Construction, Inc., an experienced nationwide design-build general contractor specializing in the design and construction of large commercial and industrial facilities such as distribution centers, manufacturing plants and aircraft hangars. Josh has been involved in steel building projects for multi-national corporations across North America, Europe, China and Southeast Asia.

William Bast, Principal, Thornton Tomasetti

William Bast is a Principal at Thornton Tomasetti and oversees projects in the Windy City and across the Midwest. Bill has extensive experience in building renovations and restorations, façade evaluations and repair programs, due diligence and condition assessments.

Colby Durnin, Chief Executive Officer, CREDE

Colby Durnin is the founder and CEO of CREDE (Commercial Real Estate Development Enterprises). Founded in 2001 while working with Oaktree Capital Management, Mr. Durnin and CREDE have been involved in the development and redevelopment of more than 100 projects, including all asset classes, spanning 15 states and 5 countries.

Ben Bruns, Executive Vice President and General Manager, The Boldt Company

Ben Bruns has more than two decades of experience in the construction industry. As executive vice president and general manager of The Boldt Company, he leads the Northern Operations team, building value for their customers and communities in Boldt’s home territory. 

Kurt Spiering, Principal and National Healthcare Sector Leader, HGA Architects and Engineers

Kurt Spiering has more than 25 years experience in healthcare programming, planning, and design nationally. As principal and national healthcare sector leader of HGA Architects and Engineers, he engages in a highly interactive design process with the client and user groups, focusing on Lean design and Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) to transform the healthcare delivery process.

John "Ozzie" Nelson, Jr., Chairman & CEO, NELSON Worldwide

John “Ozzie” Nelson Jr. is an accomplished global business leader who has demonstrated a commitment to the design industry and the community. As Co-CEO of NELSON Worldwide, Ozzie has guided the firm to unprecedented growth and an industry ranking as the third largest provider of design and design-related services to corporate America.

Chris Johnson, Managing Principal, LEO A DALY

Chris leads LEO A DALY’s largest design studio. He is a registered architect with three decades of leadership experience in both design and construction. His deep knowledge of both disciplines makes him an exceptional client steward. His experience spans concept design through construction documents, document review and construction administration for many of the region’s defining projects.

Bryce Unger, Managing Director, CG Schmidt

Bryce Unger has degrees in both Civil Engineering and Business, receiving a B.S. and a M.S. from UW-Madison and an M.B.A. from UW-Milwaukee. He has continued on as an adjunct professor at the Milwaukee School of Engineering on the topics of contracts and specifications, construction project management and cost engineering. Learn about Bryce's passion and role in the Construction industry.

Back to the top

In the News

Husch Blackwell Places 143 Lawyers in 2020 BL Rankings' Best Lawyers in America®

12 construction attorneys were named to the list.

Husch Blackwell Named Among Top 50 Construction Law Firms by Construction Executive Magazine

Construction Executive magazine has recognized Husch Blackwell in its inaugural Top 50 Construction Law Firms rankings. Overall, Husch Blackwell placed 27th on the CE Top 50; by headcount of dedicated construction lawyers, the firm was tied for 12th.

Additional Thought Leadership

The COVID-19 Conundrum: Money is Available for New Construction Projects, But Few Are Breaking Ground (August 24, 2020)

Even in a coronavirus-challenged environment, there's money available to build new projects; what's rare is finding an owner who is willing to break ground. 

Prequalifying Owners: “Funding Is Covered” Is Not Enough (July 29, 2020)

While the past decade has generally been a period of prosperous growth for the industry, the fertile backlog on contractors’ books suffered great uncertainty in early 2020 with the COVID-19 global pandemic. Some projects experienced only a minor setback and some additional costs, but others have been mothballed or scrapped altogether due to a lack of funding leaving general contractors hung out to dry. Every general contractor knew it was important before COVID-19 to prequalify its subcontractors. The COVID-19 pandemic is a reminder of the importance of prequalifying owners as well.

COVID Considerations for Future Construction Contracts – Part 2 (July 24, 2020)

The arrival of COVID-19 caused abrupt changes to construction practices. In a matter of days, things went from business as usual to social distancing. While many manufacturers pivoted from making cars to PPE, the construction industry had to stay focused on keeping projects moving while ensuring safety from the new risks presented by the pandemic. 

Construction and Design Considerations for Returning to Work: Wisconsin Law Journal, Asked and Answered Webinar Series (July 16, 2020)

In this episode of Wisconsin Law Journal’s “Asked & Answered” series, Husch Blackwell partner Eric Meier discusses considerations and best practices for reoccupying buildings from a construction and design perspective as companies return to their physical structures amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID Considerations for Future Construction Contracts (July 1, 2020)

On March 11, 2020, the NBA suspended its season after a player on the Utah Jazz preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19. The next day saw the cancellation of March Madness and cancellations or delays for a slew of other sporting events. In a matter of 24 hours, the entire sports world was upended. Over the course of the past few months, we have seen big changes to the way we live, work and deal with each other. At this point, it seems that nearly everyone is quite ready to get back to “normal,” in whatever form that takes. 

Changes to the Buy American Act: What You Need to Know (May 21, 2020)

On July 15, 2019, United States President Donald Trump signed Executive Order (EO) 13881 addressing domestic preferences in government procurement. Unlike Executive Order 13788 (signed April 18, 2017) and Executive Order 13858 (Jan. 31, 2019), which had no substantive effect on existing domestic preference statutes and regulations, this one does.

Contracts and COVID-19: How to Make Sure You’re Protected When There’s a Project Delay (May 15, 2020)

After you have identified contract clauses that are critical to determining your rights and obligations with respect to COVID-19 caused delays, next you need to determine what these clauses actually say. Your review should seek to answer three questions: (1) is COVID-19 an excusable delay; (2) what is the allowable timeframe to submit a delay claim; and (3) what are the required elements of a claim? Answering these questions may not be as easy as it sounds. To help you wade through the legalese, we’ll explain what to look for in the following sections.

The Daily Reporter: Know How Your Contracts Are Set Up to Deal With Pandemic-related Delays (May 8, 2020)

It is not hyperbole to say that the whole world is in the midst of unprecedented times. Although the federal government has not issued specific mandates to the construction industry, states and cities have enacted their own policies, first as part of “stay at home” and not as part of “return to work” orders. At each end of the stay-return spectrum, most jurisdictions have deemed construction an “essential business,” allowing projects to continue.

Construction Executive: New Building Programs Focus on Occupant Wellness (April 28, 2020)

Building owners traditionally sought designs from well-known architects to provide a brand identifier that would distinguish the structure for marketing and overall ownership satisfaction.  More recently, developers are embracing branding that relates to social goals of sustainability and wellness.

OSHA Clarifies: Most COVID-19 Cases Are Not Recordable (April 13, 2020)

Following our written letter to OSHA urging it to announce a presumption that COVID-19 cases are not recordable incidents, OSHA did just that. Late on Friday, OSHA announced that COVID-19 will not be a recordable injury in most areas and industries.

Is Coronavirus an excusable delay? (March 6, 2020)

The spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) remains unclear, but its impacts are already being felt. Supply chains are being disrupted and companies are implementing preventative measures to protect their employees. Many businesses have already suspended non-essential travel, encouraged remote working arrangements, and advised employees to follow the Centers for Disease Control risk-reduction strategies. Given these delays and disruptions, it’s logical to wonder:  Are delays or impacts related to the Coronavirus an excusable delay?

Construction Executive: Submittal Review: Study the Shop Drawings (February 2, 2020)

Submittals are a formalized means of communication in construction and a building block to a successful project. Under some circumstances, however, the process can create unwelcome consequences. Jobsite injuries are a fertile field for claimants to argue that the process of reviewing and approving submittals creates a basis for liability to the injured parties. Workers injured on the jobsite assert liability based on the review process.

Cannabis Concerns? Employer Strategies for Maintaining a Safe Workplace (December 31, 2019)

Approximately 70% of the U.S. population live in states that have legalized some form of marijuana. Only a few states have not legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use, but these sober-state employers still face complex employment issues arising from worker use of cannabis products. For construction employers in particular, the duty to maintain a safe workplace makes handling these complex issues all the more important.

Construction Executive: The Modular Construction Train Is Picking Up Steam (December 5, 2019)

Among many nicknames for New York City is the “city of skyscrapers.” Going back to the late 19th century, there has been a consistent push to develop and build bigger and grander buildings while testing out advancements in process, materials and design. The results have provided world renowned structures such as the Empire State Building, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Guggenheim Museum. While continuing to add to its impressive skyline (think One World Trade Center) and unique structures (such as the Vessel at Hudson Yards), there is a new construction and design program that is picking up steam in New York City—modular construction.

Back to the top

Constructor Magazine: BIM: What? Why? Watch Out! Resolve.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is one of the most prevalent innovations in the design and construction industry over the past 20 years. It began as a more efficient production tool for design teams to deliver drawings but has grown to encompass nearly every project team member involved in the design and construction of a project, including the owner. The value of the digital representation of the project can extend far beyond the delivery of the project and into the management of maintenance, available space, inventory and future renovations and expansions.

Four steps to winning an Arizona bid protest

Bid protests on statewide and local public procurements in Arizona are allowed, in one form or another, if an unsuccessful offeror has both “standing” and a basis for protest. Protestors can seek to be awarded the contract or to have the solicitation thrown out and reissued, which in many cases is itself a success.

InsideTrack: Rise of the Machines: Wearable Technology in the Workplace

In 2017, a River Falls company made news when it offered employees the chance to have an RFID chip injected into their hand. More than 40 employees of Three Square Market, a technology company that provides self-service mini-markets to hospitals, hotels, and company break rooms, took the leap and had chips around the size of a large grain of rice implanted in their hands.

Schemes, Scams & Occupational Fraud in Construction

Recently, Husch Blackwell Partners Josh Levy and Eric Meier participated in the Certified Financial Management Association’s Midwest Regional Conference in Oak Brook, Illinois. The following is a Top Ten list of takeaways from their topic: “Schemes, Scams & Occupational Fraud.” 

Protection Against Escalating Material Costs in the Construction Industry

As a matter of public policy, fighting inflation has not rated very highly on the list of priorities for some time now. Indeed, recent policy measures have sought to stoke inflation—something unimaginable a generation ago. The Federal Reserve professes to maintain an actual inflation target of 2% and claims that it would not at all be concerned it we overshot that target.

Construction Project Delays: An Expensive Gordian Knot

Construction projects suffer delays in virtually unlimited ways. The schedule is impacted by everything from design errors to poor management. Any event can result in a delay claim, but delay claims are only one type of construction dispute. When other claims arise on the project, those claims must be coordinated with the delay claim. We are looking only at delays.

Construction Executive: How Project Management Software Helps Eliminate Disputes on Construction Projects

The best ingredient for a successful project is up-to-date and accurate project information that is available to all parties involved. Disputes are avoided when everyone from the owner and the general contractor, to the design team and the subcontractors, has access to current project records.

Back to the top

Bond Buyer: The New Breed of Public-Private Partnerships (log-in required)

Charles Renner provides a commentary on the new breed of public-private partnerships.

Construction Dive: The Dotted Line: What Makes a Successful RFP

Requests for proposals (RFPs) — they’re like supercharged invitations to bid, and contractor responses to them can form the blueprint for how the project will be run rather than just how much it will cost. So, when preparing a response to one of these documents, it’s important to know how RFPs relate to the contract, what will make a good impression on owners and how the experts handle proposals in response to these requests. Josh Levy outlines typical questions included in an RFP.

Investor's Realty Omaha: Tapping Into Opportunity Zones

Adam Charlsen summarizes the legislative and regulatory history of the Opportunity Zones program and discusses potential deal structures that would include qualified opportunity zones investments.

Licensed Architect: Do the "Write" Thing 

Josh Levy offers some perspective on contracts--and how they should be viewed during performance of a project--for licensed architects to consider. 

The Fiction of the One-Year Warranty 

Lawyers often have to correct common misunderstandings clients have regarding certain legal principles, such as the ability to recover attorney’s fees in litigation and what may be covered by their insurance policies. In the construction law space, a common misconception is the concept that exposure to claims ends after the expiration of a one-year warranty. 

Why getting the wrong results in arbitration may be what you bought

Arbitration is often seen as a way of getting a more predictable result in complex construction disputes. The subject matter expertise available with experienced arbitrators and the finality of the arbitration process itself are certainly important considerations. But resolving disputes in arbitration can sometimes lead to surprising results, even ones that might be inconsistent with the underlying contract or with applicable state law.

Back to the top

When & How to Use Digital Signatures in Construction

An electronic signature, or e-signature, is simply data in electronic form used by a signatory to indicate assent on an electronic document. An e-signature can be as simple as a name typed into an electronic document, or it can be more complicated, effectuated through a cryptographic digital security mechanism. 

Navigating the Protections of Various Lien Waivers

Traditionally, a lien waiver functioned as an acknowledgment that some payment was paid and the lienholder released its right to file a lien on a subject property for that payment. Over the years, the content of lien waivers grew to include additional protections. 

CRE Investors Seeking Security Through JVs 

The good news for operators is that there is as much capital on the sidelines looking for quality real estate investment opportunities as ever before. However, while the money may be available, the nation’s top investors are cautious about where to invest capital.

Fraud, Forgery and Outright Theft: Strategies to Protect Project Funds

Theft comes in all shapes and sizes. Employees, vendors and subcontractors—even those a contractor has worked with for years—can act unscrupulously and even illegally to siphon money from a company. From falsifying invoices to funneling money to phantom companies, people with ill intentions are creative in figuring out ways to defraud.

Back to the top

Contact the Construction Academy leaders:

Stay updated.

Subscribe to receive Husch Blackwell’s news and insights.

Select your preferences