Law Firm Enters 18th Year of Practice with Firm Foundations of Construction Expertise

Whether your latest concern is joint employer liability, recent changes in AIA's contract forms, or contested changes in the "home rule" requirements; you could have found answers to all these in recent issues of Properties, thanks to the legal experts at Frantz Ward LLP. With their frequent contributions, you can always rely on their discussion of pertinent, current topics in the "Legal Perspectives" column of the magazine.

If you are involved in construction, Frantz Ward is a name you'll want to include in your contact list, and likely already have. Within their firm, a team of 11 lawyers devoted exclusively to the construction/surety industry is available to serve local, national and international clients. Their project list has taken them to nearly 40 of the 50 states, five continents and places as far away as Singapore, Guam and Australia.

As the firm enters its 18th year of practice, better than half of the construction team has been together with the firm for well over a decade. This allows their Construction Practice Group to provide a full complement of advisory services to industry-leading clients on a wide variety of contractual, insurance, surety, risk management, liability and litigation issues in every aspect of their business. The Frantz Ward construction team guides companies throughout the entire life cycle of a given project. When conflicts cannot be avoided, the team is experienced in formal dispute resolution procedures, administrative claim hearings, mediation, arbitration and litigation.

In addition, the firm has dozens of attorneys who regularly work with their construction clients in other matters such as real estate, OSHA, employment and labor, workers' compensation, foreclosure.bankruptcy and other disciplines. As an example, their Labor and Employment practice is especially well-regarded, consisting of another 15 to 20 attorneys.

"For many of our clients, we serve as outside general counsel," explains Ian Frank, partner and chair of the Construction Practice Group. "Our lawyers understand the market segments in which our construction clients operate, and take the time to learn about their culture, systems, operations and project issues, even when nothing is 'going wrong.' This investment in each client gives us a unique knowledge and perspective of their business, and allows us to identify potential issues before they occur, or manage them early before they impact the bottom line."

Boots on the ground

On a large university project, the construction group is presently assisting a key prime contractor as it grapples with significant delays and extra work that threaten to jeopardize the success of a high-profile improvement for the university. Frantz Ward's construction team has implemented a process to meet regularly on-site, collaborate with field staff and project management, develop an understanding of work scope and project schedule, and create project documentation controls. These steps are regularly implemented by the construction group to navigate clients through potentially catastrophic situations, by developing comprehensive strategies to protect their financial interests, solve problems as they occur on the project, and integrate those solutions with the subtrades, owner, prime contractors and design team, minimizing impacts to schedule and project profitability.

In another current, high-profile, mega-mixed use development, Frantz Ward drafted the original construction agreements, both upstream and downstream for this multi-phase project, but this was only the first step. Frantz Ward instituted weekly conference calls with the project team, to stay ahead of developing issues. Throughout the project, Frantz Ward advised and assisted in resolving design issues, scheduling and scope issues, and worked to minimize and resolve lower tier claims and liens all at minimal cost.

One of the Construction Practice Group's largest projects involves representing Canam Steel, the structural steel fabricator for the retractable roof completed on the Arthur Ashe Stadium, the largest tennis-specific stadium in the world, located in Flushing Meadows, New York. Frantz Ward's construction lawyers worked with Canam's project and outside consultant teams during the work to analyze design problems, develop Canam's claim position and ensure the work's completion in 2016. Frantz Ward is now leading a litigation team to recover more than $25 million in damages in multi-party litigation in federal court on Brooklyn, New York.

Broad project experience

While each project is unique, Frantz Ward's expertise has been sought out by a wide variety of clients. The firm has represented owners, designers, contractors, suppliers, manufacturers and a variety of other stakeholders. The breadth of their industry experience is even wider, covering the gamut from airports to arenas, casinos to convention centers, heavy highway projects to hotels, parking lots to port facilities, sewer projects to steel mills, tunnel excavation to tower erection, and water plants to wastewater treatment facilities.

National recognition of excellence

The Construction Practice Group is often rated very highly in the national rankings according to Chambers USA. Also, a number of the Construction Group attorneys are perennially rated as "best in class" among their peers by such ranking services as Super Lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell, and "Best Lawyers" by U.S. News & World Report, on both a regional and national basis.

As a leading authority in their field, Frantz Ward's lawyers are active members, frequent speakers and serve in leadership positions in many industry trade groups, including the American Bar Association Forum on Construction Law, the Home Builders Association of Greater Cleveland, the Advisory Committee for the Downtown Cleveland Alliance "Step Up Cleveland," the Construction Employers Association (CEA), the Construction Practice Group of ALFA International, Associated General Contractors (AGC), Surety Association of Ohio (SAO), Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), and the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA).

With dozens of clients that are active members of these organizations, Frantz Ward stays closely connected to these groups to stay abreast of industry developments, as well as to provide thought leadership and continuing education on the legal issues that impact their segments of the industry.