Comments from the Chair

AuthorBy Arlan D. Lewis
THE CONSTRUCTION LAWYER4 Volume 42 Issue 1 2022
Published in
The Construction Lawyer
, Volume 41, Number 4. © 2022 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.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary
denes a “tribe” as “a group of
persons having a common char-
acter, occupation, or interest.” I
don’t know that I’d previously
thought of the Forum as a tribe,
but as I considered the concept
more carefully and reected on
my own personal Forum jour-
ney, I realized that it is a tting description. In fact, I’ve
found the Forum to be the right tribe at different stages
of my career as a construction lawyer.
The tribal concept came to mind recently when a
Forum leader recounted a comment made by an in-
house counsel rst-time attendee at the Forum’s 2022
Annual Meeting in New York City. In effect, the attendee
said, “I’m involved with several other in-house counsel
groups, but I felt a void in the construction realm—now
I’ve found my tribe!” Of course, this was music to my
ears! Given that our Annual Meeting attracted more
than 100 rst-time attendees (many of whom are in-
house counsel), I hope that each one of them feels that
they have found their tribe in the Forum.
As I’ve repeatedly noted during my term as Chair, the
Forum is keenly focused on (1) increasing the value of
the Forum to our in-house counsel members, (2) attract-
ing new in-house counsel to Forum membership and
participation, and (3) helping in-house counsel gain
support from their executive team for Forum involve-
ment. As such, I’ve addressed the signicant benet to
in-house counsel of access to a wide variety of quality
Forum resources through our programs and publications,
as well as the value of a unique worldwide network of
construction lawyers and consultants. In this column,
I’ll discuss why there is a particular need for in-house
lawyers involved in construction to nd their tribe and
why the Forum is uniquely positioned to ll this need.
There are many in-house counsel organizations, and
each of them provides valuable support to its constit-
uents. Given the variety of issues in-house counsel
must often address and the assortment of perspectives
involved, it is unlikely that a single organization can
provide everything to every in-house counsel. Gov-
ernment counsel, whether federal, state, or local, have
unique needs that must be fullled in order to serve their
respective agencies. Likewise, in-house counsel needs for
publicly traded entities vary substantially from those of
entities that are privately held.
The Forum actively continues to develop material of
particular importance to construction in-house coun-
sel as their roles evolve and as needs are identied. All
the programming for the Forum’s rst-ever In-House
Counsel Summit was developed specically to be viewed
through the lens of construction in-house counsel to pro-
vide practical advice, recommendations, and resources
to them. For example, the Forum offered a primer for
new in-house counsel taught by a panel of experienced
construction in-house counsel wherein, among other
things, they provided insight into how to balance com-
pliance and risk management obligations with building
a partnership with the executive team. Likewise, the pro-
gram featured a panel of construction industry CEOs
discussing their expectations for in-house counsel and
how counsel adds value to the project team. Such practi-
cal sessions are benecial for both in-house counsel and
the organizations they serve, as they provide understand-
ing about how to bridge the delicate tension between
the counsel’s role and the executive team’s business
Even for nonconstruction issues, the Forum’s people
can be an amazing resource. Is your construction com-
pany going through a merger or acquisition? Is your
entity implementing a new compliance program, chang-
ing their corporate structure, or signicantly revising
their employment benet packages? Although none
of these circumstances are “construction law” issues,
there are likely fellow Forum in-house counsel mem
bers whose companies have done something similar, and
they can point you in the right direction. They can likely
also suggest outside counsel and consultants with the
appropriate expertise. Most importantly, their advice
and recommendations include the unique considerations
relevant to construction industry stakeholders. Building
the best construction lawyers often involves more than
just construction law, especially as regards our in-house
counsel colleagues.
If you are a construction lawyer, and particularly, if
you are an in-house attorney in the construction indus-
try, we encourage you to enthusiastically consider the
Forum on Construction Law. We are certain that this
is the right tribe for you!
Arlan D. Lewis is a partner with Blueprint Construction Counsel, LLP.
He is Chair of the ABA’s Forum on Construction Law and is based in
Birmingham, Alabama..
Arlan D. Lewis
By Arlan D. Lewis
In-House Counsel: You’ve Found Your
Construction Law Tribe in the Forum!

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