Comments from the Chair

AuthorBy Kristine A. Kubes
Kristine A. Kubes
Published in The Construction Lawyer, Volume 40, Number 2, Spring 2020. © 2020 American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion
thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.
Making a Difference with Civility
By Kristine A. Kubes
Kristine A. Kubes is a principal and mediator with Kubes
Law Ofce in Minneapolis and chair of the Forum.
Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter,,
and Facebook.
“That’s different.” “That
makes no difference.” “Look
what a positive difference
that makes!” “I see it dif-
ferently.” “We all can’t be
the same!” “Let’s hear an
alternate viewpoint.” “We
don’t think the same—this
isn’t going to work.” “We
don’t think the same—we
complement one another!”
Differences are part of life.
In some contexts, differ-
ences are problematic—they
lead to disputes, breakdowns in communications, broken
relationships, hurt feelings, lawsuits, people excluded. In
other contexts, differences are celebrated and essential.
Companies tout the unique qualities of their products
to distinguish themselves and improve their position in
the marketplace. Candidates for ofce or for a job iden-
tify differences that separate them from their peers and
demonstrate tness for service. Or consider teamwork,
where inclusion of contrasting perspectives leads mem-
bers to view a situation from different angles and develop
a stronger solution.
For lawyers, differences make the world go ’round.
Litigators distinguish the facts as they argue their cases.
Most construction lawyers spend their professional lives
helping parties work out their differences—be it formally
in mediation or litigation or when handling day-to-day
scenarios like building consensus in multiparty cases,
navigating discovery disputes, negotiating contracts, or
working with difcult people. With ethical obligations for
civility, respect, and professionalism, lawyers are uniquely
qualied to bring those attributes into any process where
people are trying to work out their differences.
These ethical obligations keep civility and profes-
sionalism evergreen topics for lawyers. The Forum on
Construction Law is focusing on professional practice
this bar year, highlighting ways that we as lawyers can
make a positive difference in our respective practices and
environments through civility, professionalism, and inclu-
sion—one person, one interaction at a time.
I raise these points in this issue focused on ADR
because the need for civility and professionalism now is
profound—not only in construction litigation and ADR
but wherever disputes and differences arise.
We as lawyers must bring civility and professionalism
to our cases and to service in the civic arena. Consider
the venues that could benet from an infusion of civil-
ity—government, neighborhood, school, charity, or family.
Whenever two or more parties are gathered, differing view-
points and a critical need for help in understanding one
another may arise. Lawyers have the unique opportunity to
make a positive difference by infusing civility and respect
into the process, helping people be heard.
The Forum models ways to nd common ground and
overcome differences to work for the common good. It is
the world’s largest organization of construction lawyers,
with members from every type of rm and afliation,
from large rm lawyer to solo practitioner; in-house
counsel to private rm member; government lawyers
to international lawyers. Moreover, the Forum has 14
Divisions that represent every aspect of construction and
design—from owners to lenders to government entities,
from general contractors to subs/suppliers or design pro-
fessionals, and from domestic to international interests.
These same lawyers nd a way to put their common
interests before all else—to work together to educate
colleagues on construction law developments across the
board. We do not favor issues important to one corner
of the nation over another. Nor do we favor one market
sector over another. The Forum intentionally does not
get into the fray of political issues but rather fosters the
common ground that unites the profession and the indus-
try. In this way, the Forum models how lawyers and their
clients with differing interests and viewpoints can work
together effectively toward a common goal.
I invite you to consider how you as a lawyer can make
a positive difference in the Forum, the profession, and
your community. The Forum is “Building the Best Con-
struction Lawyers” so we can uphold the Constitution,
support the rule of law, and serve as role models for ethi-
cal and civil practitioners. We carry these responsibilities
with us always, on construction sites, in ofces and court-
rooms, or at community events.
Consider the positive impact that all Forum members
could have if we stood for respect, civility, and inclusion
every day when helping people work out their differences.
The Forum’s impact for the good would be remarkable—
one conict, one interaction, one community at a time.
Please join me in this effort to make a difference. #inclu-
sionstartswithi #wethepeople #civility

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