The construction industry costs the US economy $120 billion per year in waste, according to Barry LePatner, one of the nation’s leading construction lawyers and author of “Broken Buildings, Busted Budgets: How to Fix America’s Trillion-Dollar Construction Industry,”–The University of Chicago Press, 2007. Even as other industries have become more efficient and streamlined with technological advances, the construction business has changed little since the first steel-framed skyscrapers were erected in the early 1900s. Lawyers can be part of the solution to improving both the cost efficiency and timeliness of office construction projects. Founder of New York City-based LePatner & Associates, LePatner discusses with how to reform the system one contract at a time. In your book, you state that lawyers can be part of the process of making construction jobs more efficient. What role do lawyers play?

LePatner: Lawyers should approach this as much as the owner’s business adviser as legal adviser. We pay close attention at the outset of every project to a client’s business objects, and we tailor the approach to structuring contracts based on those objectives. We don’t use form agreements. We do not accept the construction and design industry’s statements that this is the way business has always been done and always will be.

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