Key Facts

Construction law deals with the majority of legal matters that arise in the construction, engineering, demolition and/or repair of buildings and infrastructure. 

The work of a construction lawyer falls into either:

(a) contentious (that's the disputes work); or

(b) non-contentious (that's the transactional work). 

A construction lawyer can specialise in either type of work or do a bit of both!

Construction lawyers will provide a wide range of legal services to anyone involved in any stage of a construction project - from planning the project right through to completion (and beyond in the case of disputes!). 

Clients can include owners, designers, architects, material suppliers, contractors and subcontractors (to name a few!). 

Non-Contentious

Non-contentious construction work will include helping clients at the 'procurement' stage of the project and drafting, preparing and negotiating the construction contract prior to the building work. 

A 'construction contract' will generally cover terms such as how the building or infrastructure should be built, who by and how much it will cost. It will set out the rights, obligations and liabilities of all parties involved. 

The construction contract is a key contract in the transaction. It is important regardless of your role in the project. 

Construction lawyers may draft bespoke contracts or use one of the industry standards such as JCT, ACA, ICE, NEC, FIDIC etc. You'll learn all about these industry standards if you do a construction seat!. 

Contentious

In contentious construction, lawyers will help resolve disputes when things go wrong during the project. 

Contentious lawyers will:

  • assess a client's position and advise on the merits of the case; 

  • gather evidence including witness and expert evidence to help build the case; 

  • review extensive and high volumes worth of documents to extract key information relevant to a case; 

  • review the construction contract (or applicable contract) for dispute resolution procedures and processes; 

  • prepare and draft court papers (where applicable);

  • liaise with barristers, experts and the client to get the case ready for court or try and settle before the court gets to trial; and

  • attend court proceedings with the client and barrister. 

Construction in practice...

Construction lawyers' work tends to be pretty contract heavy so an interest in contract and tort law is key. You'll need to be a good communicator and relationship builder and have good negotiation skills. 

Typical tasks include:

  • drafting and negotiating agreements between parties such as companies, landowners, builders, architects, engineers etc (this will include building contracts, sub-contracts, deed of appointments etc); 

  • working with other teams such as the Banking & Finance team (re the funding arrangements for the project) and the Property team (re the housing elements of the project); 

  • working with local authorities to obtain requisite consent and authorisation for projects; and

  • attending site visits of the project and monitoring progress. 

Law firms to consider...

Most law firms tend to have a construction specialism. However, to assist, here are some firm recommendations:​

  • Burges Salmon LLP

  • Eversheds Sutherland

  • Gowling WLG

  • Pinsent Masons

  • Addleshaw Goddard LLP

  • Osborne Clarke LLP

  • Womble Bond Dickinson LLP

  • Ashfords LLP

  • Bevan Brittan 

  • DAC Beachcroft LLP

  • TLT LLP

  • VWV

  • Foot Antsey LLP

  • Michelmores LLP

  • Royds Withy King

  • Thrings LLP

  • Clyde & Co LLP

  • Blake Morgan 

  • Sheridan Gold LLP

  • Stevens & Bolton LLP

  • Squire Patton Boggs

  • Browne Jacobson LLP