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What Is The Role Of A Construction Lawyer, And When Do I Require One?

Oct 21

When it comes to building problems, disputes, contracts, and other legal issues, how do you know when you need a lawyer? That fundamental issue has a simple answer: it depends. In this post, we'll look at several real-life situations where employing a construction lawyer could be beneficial – and when it might not.

What do construction attorneys do?

Construction law attorneys help a wide range of customers – anybody involved in the construction process may require the services of a construction lawyer at some point. Large corporations, individual workers, property owners, and sureties are all represented by them. These lawyers are needed for a variety of reasons, but workmanship difficulties and payment disputes are two of the most typical areas of construction law.

Do you require the services of a construction lawyer?

Regrettably, that is a difficult question to answer. Whether or not a construction attorney is required will be highly dependent on the facts of the case. However, there are certain common guidelines to follow.

Visiting the courtroom

The right to represent oneself in court is a fundamental legal right in the United States. The majority of construction companies, however, are not sole proprietorships. This means that, in the eyes of the law, the majority of construction enterprises offering construction services will not be doing it as individuals.

Any organizational structure that isn't a sole proprietorship, whether it's an LLC, an incorporated corporation, an LLP, or something else, will require legal representation in order to appear in court. This is true even for individuals who run their business under a different name (like an LLC). As a result, in the vast majority of cases, a construction lawyer will be required to appear in court.

Even if you have the legal right to do so, representing yourself in court is usually a bad idea. There's a mountain of evidence to back this up. Lawyers are professionals in their field, and there's a reason they get paid to do it.

Taking your case to small claims court

Small claims court is a one-of-a-kind court. It was created to be a speedier, less expensive, and more efficient alternative to traditional litigation. Furthermore, it is built in such a way that lawyers aren't required in the same way that they are in traditional litigation. The same rule, however, applies as before. Individuals (or sole proprietors) are permitted to represent themselves in court, while all other entities must be represented.

A lien or bond enforcement action, like most other construction-related claims and difficulties, belongs in "ordinary court," not small claims court.

Liens, bond claims, and other types of payment disagreements

An attorney is not required in every construction payment issue. Without the assistance of a lawyer, contractors and suppliers can do a number of things to collect money.

Mechanics lien legislation exist in every state, and bond claim laws can be used without the assistance of an attorney. Even when it comes to filing a lien or bond claim, most claimants can do so without the assistance of an attorney.

Of course, when it comes to enforcing these claims, a construction attorney will almost always be required – and having a lawyer involved when proceeding with an enforcement action of either a lien claim or a bond claim is always a smart idea.

Unpaid parties, like lien and bond claims, have the chance to leverage these claims before going to court. The fear of a claim has considerable weight because construction payment remedies can be exceedingly harsh.

When a letter requesting payment is accompanied by a threat of legal action and is written by a construction lawyer, the dispute can often be addressed without the need for legal action.

Examining a contract for construction

Do you require legal assistance in reviewing or drafting a construction contract? YES! This is as close to a no-brainer as you can get.

Contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, and other trades frequently fall in love with a single contract and employ it on every job. That's fantastic, to be honest! The best method to assure familiarity with the terms of the agreement is to use the same contract.

Even so, it's a good idea to have a construction lawyer analyze your contract of choice before implementing it. They'll be able to evaluate the agreement's strengths and weaknesses, identify prospective sources of contention, and eliminate any liabilities.

Even if a party is utilizing a contract form that they are unfamiliar with, it is always a good idea to have the contract evaluated by a construction attorney before signing on the dotted line. Construction contracts frequently include troubling phrases that shift risk, create an excessive amount of liability, or require agreement to less-than-ideal dispute resolution arrangements.

Construction lawyers are skilled at understanding contracts and can assist construction companies in avoiding potential hazards.

Contractual disagreements

While the aforementioned disputes are unique to the construction sector, other legal claims, such as breach of contract, unjust enrichment, quantum meruit, and a slew of others, must be brought in a courtroom.

These claims can also be used (with or without the assistance of a lawyer) to try to settle the disagreement without going to court. The threat of litigation, on the other hand, won't always work - and if a lawsuit must be filed, a counsel is usually required.

Whether or not legal assistance is required, the direction of a construction lawyer will make the process more manageable.

When should you consult a construction lawyer?

In this post, we've covered a variety of instances in which consulting a construction lawyer would be beneficial (if not mandatory). Still, let's take a quick look at a few common circumstances when a construction lawyer's expertise is required.

As you can see, the adage "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" holds true in this case. The ideal way to use a construction lawyer is to prevent legal difficulties from arising in the first place. Even if a construction lawyer is called in as a last resort, bringing one in sooner rather than later can assist keep a conflict under control.

Suspicious parties

It is not a good idea to fight a case without the assistance of a lawyer. A lawyer may be costly, but losing the claim (and failing to reduce exposure) will be much more costly. Furthermore, they may be able to uncover cross-claims that will benefit you.

Parties who are bringing a lawsuit against someone else

Exactly the same as before! Fighting a legal battle without the assistance of a lawyer is a bad decision. It's possible that filing a lawsuit without the help of a lawyer isn't even legal — and it's certainly not the greatest option.

Parties who are facing legal action

This one is a little more complicated. A construction lawyer is not required in every case where a lawsuit is threatened. However, with the assistance of a lawyer, determining which threats are false and which have some merit is considerably easier. A construction company can better identify potential liabilities by engaging a lawyer.

Choosing the most appropriate line of action

"I'm not sure where to go from here, but I need to get paid." This is something we hear all the time at the Payment Help Center, and it's a frequent situation in this sector.

Construction companies have a range of weapons at their disposal if payments aren't coming in. With the guidance of a construction lawyer, determining which ones are the most appropriate, viable, and likely to result in payment will be much easier.

Accident on the job

In the aftermath of an onsite mishap, a construction lawyer will be useful to both the wounded worker and their company. Injury claims and workers' compensation disputes can quickly devolve into a shambles. A lawyer can assist in keeping matters on track and out of the courtroom, if possible.

Construction defect allegations

Defective construction claims are one of the most common causes of construction lawsuit. Regardless of which side a party is on — whether they're claiming there's a flaw or defending against a claim of defective work — construction lawyers can help to clarify the problem and even prevent litigation. They'll be able to comprehend the relevant laws and contractual obligations to figure out who, if anyone, is to blame and who might be held liable.

Performing contractual obligations

Do you want to use a contract feature such as a termination or escalation clause? A contract may allow you to take certain actions, such as termination or price increases, but doing so without prudence could result in responsibility.

It's a good idea to speak with a lawyer about how to exercise contractual alternatives and any potential complications that may occur before doing so. A construction lawyer's advice is invaluable, whether it's before the agreement is signed or before any action is performed.


If you think construction law is unique, wait till you hear about bankruptcy law. Bankruptcies are handled in a different court system, and not every lawyer has the required knowledge to navigate it. A construction lawyer may be able to assist you with some of the procedures, but you may also need to contact a bankruptcy lawyer in this case.

If you're thinking about filing for bankruptcy, a construction lawyer can be a very useful resource, especially if they also have a lot of bankruptcy experience. You'll need a complete assessment of your company's assets and liabilities, as well as knowledge of which bankruptcy option is best for you.