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Mark Kalar
Mark Kalar

In-House Counsel 2023: Mark Kalar

Private Company with annual revenues up to $500M

Mark Kalar was about as well established in his profession as one can be. Armed with a master’s in architecture, he spent 16 years as an architect at various local firms. But then he saw something in his business that he thought needed fixing.

“I felt like architects were making a lot of decisions about their actions in fear of lawsuits without really understanding the risk, he recalled. “I was not yet a lawyer, but sometimes their decisions wouldn’t make sense to me. People would say, ‘We can’t do that because we might get sued.’ It didn’t seem quite right, and that got me interested.”

A friend who was working as an engineer and going to law school at the same time prompted a leap by Kalar into law school.

“The idea of being able to translate some of these terms in context and in language that would be more easily understood by professionals appealed to me,” he said. “I saw that I could take my first profession and use it to offer legal guidance.”

After earning a law degree from Mitchell Hamline School of Law, Kalar incorporated his new expertise into his role as principal at Cuningham. There he helps review agreements and proposals, advises on potential claims and manages the firm’s insurance companies, among other tasks.

Kalar loves the detail work involved. An example is the very complex work Cuningham does for Disney.

“On one project we did with them, I spent a lot of time in the Imagineering offices coming to terms on this contract that turned out to be hundreds of pages long,” he said. “The end result was a very cool addition to one of their theme parks.

“Part of what I like about in-house work is being proactive and working to deflect risk rather than arguing over it.”

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