Lunchtime Learning: Negotiating Design Contracts: Minimize Risk to Maximize Profit (by Lee/Shoemaker PLLC) - Webinar

  • Date

    Wednesday, July 21 2021

  • Time

    12:00pm - 1:00pm

  • Location


Embarking on any new project is an exciting and energizing time for an architect, but design is risky business. The unique challenges and potential liabilities architects face make good contracting practices a vital ingredient to long-term success. How can an architect protect the bottom line while attracting clients and pursuing business opportunities in a competitive industry? And how can contract negotiations present an opportunity to improve your client relationship?  This presentation will equip attendees with the keys to effectively negotiate owner-architect agreements to ensure profitability and insulate yourself (and your firm) from liability.  Both up-and-coming and seasoned architects will learn cutting-edge insights, common pitfalls and best practices on the most critical contract provisions and strategies for getting owners to Yes. Based on our ‘lessons learned’ from the legal trenches, we will cover a wide range of topics that include fee structures and project phase scoping, site safety, indemnity obligations, limitations of liability, subcontracting, professional liability insurance coverage, dispute resolution approaches, and more!


Dalene A. Radcliffe

Based on her years of experience with claims in the construction industry, Dalene recognizes that each of her clients have different motivations. Some are looking for vindication through victory at trial, while others are looking for resolution through a negotiated settlement as quickly as possible. Once she understands the client’s goals, Dalene works diligently to develop and implement a strategy tailored to meeting her client’s objectives.

While many lawyers are intimidated by the volume of documents generated on a construction project, Dalene is not. Dalene understands the different types of documents created by owners, contractors, and design professionals on a complicated construction project, and how to use those documents effectively at deposition and trial to accomplish her client’s goals. Dalene recognizes that her experience in the industry provides her an advantage when diving into the details of a new case.

Dalene began her legal career involved in the representation of contractors and came to understand how contractors of various sizes in the DC metropolitan area approach issues on a construction project. Having “come to the light,” Dalene is able to leverage her knowledge of the contractor’s mentality when advising her design professional clients involved in disputes involving claims asserted by a contractor. It should come as no surprise that many clients feel a sense of comfort after talking through a challenging situation with Dalene.

Having earned the respect of both her clients and her peers, Dalene has been recognized as a SuperLawyers™ “Rising Star” in D.C. every year since 2019.


Paul E. Knupp, III

Paul is a trial lawyer. He understands that success in the courtroom is the result of diligent preparation and a commitment to understanding all angles of a case, whether advocating on behalf of a client at a mediation, an arbitration hearing, or in the courtroom. Driven to achieve his client’s objectives, Paul enjoys scouring project records for the “needle in the haystack” key to the defense of his client.

Paul understands how those key project records play in the courtroom. Having clerked for the Honorable Michael D. Mason (Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland) during a high-profile construction case, Paul observed first-hand what forms of advocacy were particularly effective when presenting technical details to a jury. Paul brings this experience to bear when advocating on behalf of his design professional clients.

While Paul relishes the opportunity to advocate on behalf of his clients in the courtroom, he also recognizes that many of his clients prefer to avoid the risk of trial. When his client has determined to settle a case, Paul takes pride in his ability to assess the options available to his client, evaluate how to marshal the factual and legal arguments supporting his client’s position, and negotiate a favorable resolution on behalf of his client.

Based on his prowess in the courtroom and at the negotiating table, Paul has served as a trusted advisor to executives and organizational leaders involved in disputes, and has earned recognition as a SuperLawyers™ “Rising Star” in D.C. every year since 2014.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand how various contract provisions allocate the duties and risks inherent to any construction project. 

  • Understand how to mitigate the risk of owner or third-party liability claims. 

  • Understand leverage points which create opportunities to obtain favorable contracts.

  • Learn proven messaging strategies to implement when negotiating fees and contract terms with owners. 

Sponsorship Images
Lee / Shoemaker