Best & Flanagan
Justin Short is a construction lawyer with an emphasis on infrastructure, highway and bridge projects and, to a lesser extent, vertical construction. His practice extends throughout the upper Midwest and over to Colorado. He works primarily with state and federal governments and the Army Corps of Engineers.
He foresees a significant amount of infrastructure work in Minnesota and nationally.
“Minnesota is home to some of the most innovative and sophisticated contractors in the country. They are getting work all over the country through a competitive bid process. I don’t think there’s concerns [in the rest of the country] about their quality,” Short said.
A growing trend in public projects is the generational change resulting in newer engineers. Short explained that there are usually a variety of site conditions, some presenting problems. “Ten years ago the contractor and engineer would resolve it and get it done. As those longtime engineers retire, newer engineers reject resolution of problems and it results in increased costs and delays. It will probably continue. It’s a personality change, not a change in the law or specifications,” he said.
Short recommended that contractors and their staff be very careful and thorough with their records. “Documenting and communicating is vital to avoiding seven-figure losses,” he said. He also said that agencies need to take control of the problem.
An issue in the legal market is training and mentorship of new lawyers, Short said. “We have an obligation to train the new lawyers on being great in ethics and the business of law. The latter can be a lot to balance but it’s not complex.” And remote work has caused some isolation. “I don’t want those work-from-home lawyers to miss out on how to work with (other) counsel.”