Plain Talk About Representing Design Professionals
"If you're an architect or an engineer, a dispute with a client is the last thing you want or need. Unfortunately, disagreements between a design professional and his or her client are sometimes unavoidable as a project proceeds through design and construction.
My job, on behalf of the design professionals I represent, is to make sure they emerge from those disputes with their good reputation, and their profit, intact. There are some simple rules I advise them to follow:
1. Pay attention to the contract before you sign it. Be specific about what your responsibilities are and are not. I advise my design professional clients that the most important clause I draft for their contract may be the one limiting their liability. With the help of a good, clear contract, you can usually work through the dispute with your clients.
2. When a dispute arises, call your attorney right away, but keep him or her in the background while you try to resolve the problem yourself. It costs less and it can keep the level of tension reduced. During this phase of a dispute, a good lawyer offers advice and acts as a sounding board, assisting you to resolve the matter without litigation. If you are successful, the dispute will have no next phase.
3. Know when it's time to fight. Sometimes there is no reasonable alternative to litigation. I assist my clients in weighing the costs and benefits of litigation. When they decide to proceed, I represent them aggressively. A thorough knowledge of plans, specifications, change orders and other aspects unique to a design professional's practice helps me understand how the project was built and who was responsible for what. That understanding has contributed to a proven record of successful trial results.
It's my job and the job of any good attorney to practice his or her profession with the competence and efficiency that will keep clients free to practice theirs."