As part of the Construction Practice, the Design Professional group has dedicated more than 25 years to the representation and defense of architects, engineers, registered land surveyors, interior designers, program managers and similar construction industry professionals.
The members of the Design Professional group represent design professionals of virtually every discipline through every step of the construction process. That means that clients can count on our attorneys to be there to provide education with respect to risk management and avoidance, representation through the contract negotiation process, counsel through the resolution of disputes that arise during construction as well as any litigation that finds its way into state and federal courts in Georgia, South Carolina and the Southeast, or mediation and arbitration proceedings.
The construction industry is full of risk and the Design Professional group believes that one of the most valuable services it offers is the ability to recognize, understand and manage those risks. Members of the group have given countless seminars for design professionals, in which they have provided education relating to the issues facing the industry. We understand the business realities facing design professionals and try to provide practical advice that allows design professionals to compete for and obtain projects, while limiting the risks encountered in today’s construction environment. It is virtually impossible to eliminate risk, but clients can learn to balance their business interests with the ever-changing risks facing this industry.
Members of this group frequently draft, review, revise and negotiate professional service agreements. Along the way, we try to help our clients understand the contract terms and provisions at issue and the issues that arise from those provisions. The goal is to always obtain a fair agreement that achieves the appropriate balance between the parties and to then transfer that agreement to the written document. We are practical enough to understand that it is not always possible to negotiate the perfect contract. Under those circumstances, we assist the client in obtaining the best agreement possible while educating the client with respect to the issues associated with any remaining disputed terms so that a good, informed business decision can be made.
Construction Project Disputes
Clients often find themselves trying to determine the best course of action to take when confronted with a dispute during a construction project. We can provide advice and assistance in addressing these problems when they arise, with the goal of preventing them from developing into litigation matters. We try to quickly assess the situation, discuss alternatives with the client and develop a strategy for addressing the problem in a manner that is right for the project and that minimizes future exposure to the client.
We handle construction-related litigation in all of the state, federal and appellate courts in Georgia, South Carolina and other states as well as matters in mediation and arbitration. We have handled cases that come in all forms and sizes, including claims involving personal injury, wrongful death, property damage, damages caused by design and construction defects, delay claims and other disputes over the recovery of economic losses, as well as claims for non-monetary or equitable relief. Some claims have arisen out of the planning of projects, design services and the construction contract administration phase services.
Representation Through Litigation Support Activities
Design professionals are often asked to produce documents or information in legal proceedings involving other parties. These requests come in many different forms, including a request for the production of the design professional’s project files, a request to provide expert opinion with respect to issues that arose on a project, a subpoena to testify at a deposition, trial or arbitration or a number of other requests. Through pre-claim assistance programs offered by many professional liability carriers and through its relationships with the design professionals, we assist our clients in properly handling the situation. We aid the client in understanding and fulfilling any legal requirements placed upon the design professional, while providing the legal support to protect them from unnecessarily becoming involved in legal matters.
Construction Certifications and Related Documents
Lenders and other third parties often ask design professionals to execute certifications, consent to assignment documents, lien subordination agreements and similar documents relating to a project. These documents often impose upon the design professional duties, obligations and liabilities beyond those that the design professional had otherwise undertaken. In return, the design professional receives little additional benefit from the execution of these documents. Our attorneys can assist in responding to such requests in a manner that protects the interests of the design professional while attempting to provide appropriate documentation for the benefit of the design professional’s client.
Representation Before the Licensing Boards
The Design Professional group also handles state licensing board proceedings involving our clients. We are always mindful that the professional license is essential to the practice of our design professional clients. We counsel our clients in avoiding problems with the licensing board and provide representation if proceedings are instituted by the licensing board.
Value in Service
As a firm, Copeland Stair understands that for legal services to be of value to the client, they must not only be of high quality, but they must be cost-effective. The members of the Design Professional group incorporate that concept into all of the services we provide. We have the experience, skill and resources to provide unparalleled representation, while never forgetting the need to provide a practical, economical approach to delivering our services.
Design Professional Team Contacts
Kent T. Stair
Practice Group Chair
For over 30 years, the focus of Kent’s practice has been on the representation of design professionals in the drafting and negotiation of their contracts, the resolution of design and construction phase issues, and the litigation, arbitration and mediation of the various disputes that arise in connection with the design and construction process. His practice also…