Construction/Design Contract Preparation and Negotiation

Construction/Design Contract Preparation and Negotiation


The foundation of every successful construction project is the contract. The attorneys of Schiff Hardin’s Construction Law Group have decades of experience drafting, reviewing and negotiating virtually every type of construction agreement. With offices across the country, we advise owners, developers, architects and engineers, prime contractors and subcontractors on their contractual relations, emphasizing the need to mitigate risk through the terms of their agreements. And we have contract experience in almost every sector, including energy/utility, office/commercial, healthcare, education, single and multi-family residential, sports, public body, governmental and retail industries.

Experience in Multiple Contracting Methodologies

Our pragmatic approach to contracts focuses on finding effective business solutions to our clients’ legal issues. We take the time to understand our clients’ projects and business goals, and we draw upon our years of experience to recommend the contracting method that will best advance their interests. Our attorneys are experienced in multiple methodologies, including fixed price, guaranteed maximum price, time-and-materials, unit price, and complex methods  — engineering, procurement and construction (EPC), target-price, and joint venture approaches.

Developing and Using Different Forms of Agreement 

The lawyers of the Construction Law Group regularly prepare and negotiate contracts using industry form contracts, including those created by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Consensus DOCs, the Engineers Joint Contracts Documents Committee (EJCDC), the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA), and the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), as well as other non-industry “manuscript” contracts.

This one-size-fits-all approach is not always in the best interest of our clients. In those instances, our lawyers prepare customized contracts tailored to our clients’ specific needs, business, preferences and priorities. The contract is a business tool, and our approach focuses on providing our clients with the best possible tools for success.

Serving as National Counsel

Clients engaged in construction projects in multiple states also appreciate the time and cost efficiency of using the Construction Law Group to represent them in their contract negotiations. When working with our clients, our attorneys learn the client’s broader goals, its project teams and its internal constituents (such as legal, risk management, audit and accounting departments). With that broader, institutional knowledge of the client, we are more prepared at the negotiation table.

Clients also benefit from using Schiff Hardin on a national basis in the following ways:

  • Time Efficiency — Our familiarity with the client and its preferences allows us to resolve contract terms more quickly.
  • Cost Efficiency — Spending less time on contract negotiations reduces the legal spend on a per-contract basis.
  • Consistency — Contract terms are resolved on a consistent basis across the country. A client may not recognize that a business unit in one area of the country is using terms that contradict those used by a different business unit elsewhere.
  • Lessons Learned — We help the client to discern recurring issues in its contracting strategy and identify patterns of inefficiency so that they can be addressed. We also bring the benefit of “lessons learned” to all of the client’s contract negotiations — again highlighting consistency.