Construction Lawyer Job Description
From railways and shopping centres, to office blocks and residential estates, the construction industry – and thus the work of a Construction Lawyer – is vibrant and varied. If you are considering a career in this lucrative practice area, our Construction Lawyer job description should give you all the information needed to make your decision.
Construction law is a branch of law that deals with all the legal, contractual, regulatory and transactional issues and procedures related to construction, infrastructure and engineering.
Many broader legal disciplines play their part within this practice area, including contract law, commercial law, property law, dispute resolution and regulatory making the work involved highly varied.
Whether airports, power stations, motorways, apartment blocks or housing, construction work is always being undertaken, meaning that there will always be work for Construction Lawyers.
Construction Lawyers have wide reaching responsibilities. These range from contract drafting many months before construction starts, all the way through to representing construction firms in court when payments have not been made or agreements have been breached.
Some Lawyers will choose to specialise in either the contentious or non-contentious aspects of construction law, while others may be more inclined to handle both types of work for greater variety in their daily tasks.
In general, though, the key duties of a Construction Lawyer will usually include:
• Drafting, reviewing and negotiating a range of industry-specific and general commercial contracts between the different parties involved in a project.
• Acting for a variety of clients including builders, property developers, architects, contractors, subcontractors, engineers, landowners and more.
• Working closely with legal professionals of other disciplines including finance, property and regulatory to ensure due diligence is carried out, funding is secured etc.
• Liaising and negotiating with civil authorities to obtain planning permission and building approvals.
• Guiding clients through various forms of dispute resolution, up to and including litigation, when contracts are breached, payments are not made, injuries sustained, and other issues arise around the project.
• Advising on the procurement of resources and materials.
• Advising on health and safety, insurance, liability and environmental matters relating to each project.
• Visiting construction sites and meeting with stakeholders periodically to monitor progress and get ahead of any future issues that may arise.
The path to qualifying as a Construction Lawyer will start in the same way as qualifying in any other legal practice area. Our article on how to become a Solicitor details the different routes that you can take to qualifying as a Solicitor.
While studying towards the Legal Practice Course (LPC), you should start to apply for training contracts with boutique construction law firms or larger firms that have a dedicated construction practice.
Rupa Lakha, Construction Partner at Charles Russell Speechlys LLP told us about her steps to qualification and beyond in a recent interview:
“I applied for training contracts after completing my LPC and was successful in securing one at Speechly Bircham LLP (now Charles Russell Speechlys LLP) following the 3-week summer scheme selection process. I have been exceptionally fortunate with my career progression; I have evolved from a trainee through to associate, senior associate and then on to partnership within one law firm.”
While not everyone’s career development may be as smooth as Rupa’s, one of the key takeaways is the summer scheme that she undertook prior to applying for a training contract. The competition you face in applying for a construction law training contract will be stiff, so any legal work experience that you can demonstrate will swing the odds in your favour.
In addition to your academic profile, qualification and work experience, a career in construction law requires:
• Contract drafting, reviewing and negotiating skills
• Sound knowledge of all industry specific contracts, regulations and procedures
• Detailed understanding of the construction industry as a whole, not just the legal aspects
• Knowledge of commercial and transactional law
• An approach that is strategic, analytical and creative
• The ability to work with a range of legal and non-legal professionals
• Verbal and written communication skills
• The ability to break down complex concepts into everyday terms
• Relationship building and client facing skills
• A knack for anticipating and preventing future issues
• The ability to advise clients on contentious issues and guide them through various forms of dispute resolution
• The ability to prepare a case, represent clients in court and carry out the other tasks associated with litigation
• Any knowledge or experience of related industries like engineering, infrastructure or architecture
As mentioned previously, construction law overlaps with several other legal disciplines, including litigation, finance, commercial property, residential property and many more. Any experience, including training seats, in these practice areas will enhance your CV when it comes to applying for construction law jobs.
According to our recently published Audience Insight Report, the average Construction Lawyer salary in 2019 was £60,869 per year. This figure varies depending on factors such as PQE level, employer and location.
Additionally, 39% of Construction Lawyers received a bonus last year, and 82% were offered a range of benefits including flexible working, gym contributions, travel loans and healthcare.
If you are a construction law specialist considering a career move, there is no better place to start job hunting than TotallyLegal, the UK’s leading job board for legal professionals.