Shapiro, Lifschitz & Schram

“They give me custom-tailored advice.”

Skip Kriss – Executive Vice President, The Richmond Corporation


On November 2nd, I (Alexis Lockshin) joined 150-200 design and construction professionals at the sixth annual Women in Construction Conference

The full-day event, hosted by Ober|Kaler, featured five dynamic panels on topics ranging from trends in construction to work-life balance (on which I was a panelist); and featured renowned structural emergency specialist Allyn Kilsheimer of KCE Structural Engineers PC as the keynote speaker.  See Speakers’ Bios Here.

The agenda combined valuable technical information with ideas and advice (for both women and men) about how to improve professional skills and beyond.  The sixth year was certainly another success for co-founders Barbara Werther (Ober|Kaler) and Barbara Wagner (Clark Construction).

Quick Recap:

KeynoteAllyn Kilsheimer, the “go-to” structural engineer, discussed mitigating disaster and how to handle emergency situations.  Through an unforgettable slideshow, Kilsheimer shared images of some of his many forensic investigations of existing buildings, buildings in failure mode, and emergency situations.

Panel 1: Emerging Trends in Healthcare Construction

  • PanelistsTama Duffy Day (Perkins + Will), Neal McKelvey (Holy Cross Hospital), Barbara Wagner, co-moderator (Clark), & Sarah E. Swank, co-moderator (Ober|Kaler) 
  • Take-Aways:  This extraordinary panel, made up of a designer, an owner, a VP of construction, and an attorney, discussed Emerging Trends in Healthcare Construction. Key points included; Healthcare Reform:(i) Causing many owners to defer construction projects; (ii) Seeing more renovations and expansions in lieu of new construction; (iii) More consolidations of smaller hospitals within larger systems; and (iv) Increased construction of smaller-scale outpatient facilities. Integrated Project Delivery: IPD and design-build (rather than the conventional design-bid-build) has become more prevalent, both in the public and private sectors, to accommodate constantly evolving technology and achieve sustainability goals. Teams to work together from project initiation to completion and maintain a high level of continuity, making it easier to meet budget and schedule goals. Sustainability: Healthcare building will continue to incorporate sustainable features/green building techniques (reducing utility costs and providing healthier environments, including ample sunlight). Yet, owners must cautiously weigh the cost and benefits of green construction.

Panel 2: Women as Negotiators

  • PanelistsJulie Kirkwood (DAVIS), Sally Hoekstra (Clark), Gul Dusi (Forrester), & Kathy S. Taub, moderator
  • Take-Aways:  The second panel, Women as Negotiators, provided insight and inspiration to the younger women in the audience.  Made up of four respected professionals in various stages of their careers, Panel 2 offered useful tips on effective negotiations, including: (i)  Never losing sight of your objective (whether negotiating with a man or woman; older, younger, more senior, or junior) it is critical to always remember your end goal;(ii)  Always be cognizant of how you present yourself (including how you dress, how you carry yourself, and body language); (iii) Protect your creditability; (iv) Know your opponent (do your research and remember the personality of your opponent); and (v)  When confronted with an angry/out-of-control opponent, neutralize the situation.

Panel 3: Can There Really Be Work-Life Balance?

  • PanelistsJulie Quagliano Westemeier (Seeger Faughnan Mendicino), Jan Inguagiato (Held Enloe), Alexis Lockshin (Shapiro Lifschitz & Schram), & Vanessa Teitelbaum, moderator (Watkins Meegan)
  • Take-Aways: I was fortunate enough to participate as a panelist on the third panel, Can There Really be Work-Life Balance?, with three inspiring and impressive women.  Made up of two lawyers, an engineer, and a CPA, we offered attendees perspectives on work-life balance ("WLB") from different stages of life (20s, 30s, 40s, 50s...). This blend made for an interactive and provocative discussion. Key points included: (i)  WLB means something different to everyone; (ii)  The law does not mandate WLB (highlighting the recent Federal decision EEOC v. Bloomberg); (iii) Real life stories of how we deal with WLB issues; (iv) Challenges to achieving WLB unique to the construction industry; and (v)  Strategies, including: Prioritizing and planning • Controlling your schedule • Not taking on too much • Acceptance • Managing expectations (at work and home) • Workplace culture (if it doesn’t work for you, get out) • Communicating your plan to meet deadlines • Making a decision and sticking with it • Asking for help • Setting goals and expectations for yourself • Overcoming the need to constantly be the “Best” • Learning what makes you happy.

With attendees from various sectors of the industry (including law firms, consulting companies, construction companies, trade associations, non-profits, engineering firms and architecture firms, and more) and of varying ages (early 20s to late 60s), we engaged the audience in an interactive and fun discussion.  I learned so much from the other panelists and attendees.  I truly enjoyed every minute and appreciate the opportunity. 

Panel 4: Lessons Learned from Women in Construction

  • PanelistsMolly Raglani (Clark), Shari Natovitz (Silverstein Properties/World Trade Center), Jessica Gray (DAVIS), Adele Abrams (Law Office of Adele L. Abrams), & Jenna Kirkpatrick Howard, moderator (Lockton Companies)
  • Take-Aways:  This diverse panel shared stories from earlier in their careers that became valuable learning experiences. With experiences ranging from project management, safety/OSHA, catastrophic claims, to risk management, this panel offered a moving discussion by sharing personal stories of success, challenges, and unique career paths. Overall message: stay true to yourself and pursue your goals, no matter the obstacles.

Panel 5: System Upgrade Implementation

  • PanelistsHeather Baker (DAVIS), Catherine Beirne (Structure Tone), Shannon Kamenick (HITT), & Kathy Alexander, moderator (Structure Tone)
  • Take-Aways:  The final panel provided useful insight into various technology solutions used to streamline the flow of information between project team members.  This knowledgeable panel emphasized the importance of evaluation, selection, implementation, and support of these systems, in addition to the importance of continually evaluating emerging technologies to enable teams to work more efficiently and productively, saving both time and money.

The event concluded with a great post-conference cocktail/networking reception on the roof of the Council on Foreign Relations building (LEED Gold).

Many thanks to WIC Co-founders, Barbara and Barbara:  I want to sincerely thank WIC co-founders Barbara Werther and Barbara Wagner for putting together such an impressive program and creating a fabulous way for women (and men) in the industry to network and navigate their way through the industry. In welcoming attendees to the 2011 event, Barbara Werther noted that in creating WIC, she and her co-founder sought to provide an avenue for younger professionals to learn from those who are "more seasoned", offer networking and mentoring opportunities, and create a “legacy”.  They have done precisely this and I was honored to be a part of the wonderful day.

Many thanks to the generous sponsors:

WIC_logo.jpg17.5 KB
Found In: Construction

Did You Know . . .

Members of the SLS trial group have tried in excess of 50 jury trials and 75 bench trials?

The SLS construction group has worked on sports stadiums across the country including Orioles Park in Baltimore and Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati?

The SLS construction group has worked on power plant projects across the country?

In 2007 SLS was selected for an Honorable Mention as one of the Best Places To Work in Washington DC?

Ron Shapiro, Steve Schram and Judd Lifschitz have all been selected as SuperLawyers by Law and Politics?

The SLS office building is an historic townhouse constructed in the late 1800s?

SLS has been selected by Martindale-Hubbell as a Preeminent Law Firm?

SLS trial lawyers have argued appeals in the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal for the 4th, 5th, 9th, D.C. and Federal Circuit?

SLS trial lawyers have been lead trial counsel in cases in Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, and Virginia, - to name just a few?

Virtually all the cases that SLS trial lawyers mediated have been favorably settled at mediation?

The transactional group at SLS was lead counsel on one of the largest, most complex mixed-use projects in downtown Washington, DC involving 4 lenders and 6 property owners?

In appreciation for the outstanding efforts of each of its employees during 2007, SLS gave everyone (attorneys, paralegals, and staff) a 4 day/3 night expense paid trip to Key West, Florida?

The transactional group at SLS has represented tenants in more than 200 retail leases in the Mid-Atlantic region?

Every attorney in the transactional group at SLS has at least 15 years experience?

The transactional group at SLS has represented developers in the purchase, construction, financing and/or sale of more than 75 multi-family apartment projects?

The transactional group at SLS has represented real estate investors and developers with respect to property in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Michigan and the U.S. Virginia Islands?

Attorneys in the transactional group at SLS have represented eight national banks in commercial real estate loans?

Attorneys in the transactional group at SLS have represented the FDIC, the Resolution Trust Corporation and several banking institutions in loan workout transactions throughout the Mid-Atlantic region?

The transactional group at SLS has represented homebuilders and commercial real estate developers in work-outs of individual loans and also for work-outs of large portfolios involving dozens of properties in several states?

The trial lawyers of SLS have numerous reported decisions to their credit?