Partner Steven Torres presented at the 2021 International Municipal Lawyers Association (“IMLA”) 86th Annual Conference

Partner Steven Torres presented at the 2021 International Municipal Lawyers Association (“IMLA”) 86th Annual Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota on October 2, 2021.

Titled, “The Infrastructure Trifecta: Integrating the Owner, Designer and Municipal Counsel for Precision Project Delivery,” Attorney Torres detailed how to shape and execute a deal for infrastructure projects. The presentation highlighted the importance of successful coordination between municipal entities, project designers and municipal counsel for a positive result on public projects.

As Attorney Torres explained, a municipality’s legal counsel plays a central role in the infrastructure trifecta because construction projects tend to be document driven. After a municipal entity determines the project scope and objectives, it is up to the attorneys to streamline the procurement process.

Working in connection with the project owner and design professional, attorneys are responsible for getting the word out about the project through invitations for bids and requests for proposals. Attorneys also play a key role in many of the monetary aspects of the project, such as insurance and bonding. Once a contractor is selected, attorneys are responsible for drafting the professional services agreement and other associated contract documents.

Mr. Torres also outlined a number of mistakes that attorneys should avoid, including missing a qualifying requirement, missing a filing or submittal date, using unmodified or standard form contracts, permitting binding arbitration of disputes and drafting an ineffective forum selection clause, waiver of removal or limitation of liability clause.

Mr. Torres offered some helpful guidance for attorneys seeking a role in infrastructure projects. As part of the checklist, attorneys should be up to date on new federal infrastructure legislation, such as the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act. Attorneys are also encouraged to consider the project delivery models available for their particular projects and should be prepared to advise project owners on the available options. Before the procurement process begins, attorneys should develop a working relationship with bond counsel and should understand what information is required for successful bonding. Without bond counsel’s approval of the issuer’s bonds, a construction project is seldom to proceed. Finally, although it is clear that legal counsel plays a pivotal role in any public project, it is always important to position yourself as part of the project team.

If you wish to discuss this presentation or the issues discussed therein, please contact WGL Managing Partner Teno A. West at 917-922-6226.