Shapiro, Lifschitz & Schram

“They establish very strong relationships with opposing counsel and make a difficult transaction happen without bumps and bruises.”

Marty Saturn – Executive Vice President, Meisel Capital Partners




Effective representation of construction industry clients requires not only a thorough understanding of the applicable law, but also a comprehensive knowledge of the process of construction. At Shapiro, Lifschitz & Schram we possess both, thanks to career-long experience in an intensely focused practice representing our national and international clients.

Our full service construction practice allows us to assist clients in avoiding disputes by properly drafting contract documents and to quickly evaluate and resolve controversies before they escalate into litigation or other formal dispute resolution proceedings. But when our advocacy skills are required, let's just say that we aren't shy about pursuing our clients' objectives.

Our practice covers all aspects of construction law, including contract drafting and negotiation, claim preparation, and dispute resolution through the use of mediation, arbitration, litigation and trials. We represent public and private owners, developers, general contractors, construction managers, subcontractors and suppliers, sureties, design professionals in public and private projects of virtually every type. We routinely prepare and negotiate complex design and construction agreements, including EPC, design-build, "fast-track" GMP contracts, fixed price, cost plus, build-to-suit, and private venture contracts and subcontracts. We have particular experience in EPC contract matters in the power and energy industries. Our attorneys review, draft and negotiate architect, construction, construction management, design-build, government and international contracts and subcontracts, and we assist in establishing contract administration procedures. To help keep their projects on schedule and on budget, we employ our experience to assist clients in avoiding disputes and litigation through risk shifting, efficient claims analysis and creative dispute resolution techniques. We have extensive experience in preparing, analyzing, defending, and prosecuting virtually every type of construction claim, including differing site conditions, acceleration, changes, defective plans and specifications, construction and/or design defects, delay, disruption, labor inefficiency, suspension, and termination. Our work includes prosecuting and defending all types of mechanics' lien claims, payment and performance bond claims and collection claims. When it comes time for trial, our trial lawyers know that every trial is a big deal. Our unwavering focus is what our clients deserve and is what they've come to expect. We don't discount that litigation is a complex process, requiring the delicate execution of pre-trial motions and discovery. But we also recognize that at the end of the day, the trial itself is what differentiates our team from the pretenders, and we relish the challenge.

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You probably won't come across any group of lawyers that gets as excited about construction law as we do. True, that might not be the worst thing, but our clients will tell you that our passion for construction law is what truly elevates our service and triggers our desire to go the extra mile.

It is our passion that drives our relentless work ethic, and that gets us up early and keeps us going late searching for that extra edge, the one that our competitors will overlook, in order to secure a victory for our clients.

We practice law because it's what we love to do. Like an athlete who is "in the zone" (ok, slightly less glamorous), we lock in on the challenge before us and consume ourselves with overcoming it. The result is success for our clients, and tremendous personal satisfaction for us. It is because we enjoy our work that we embrace our client relationships so completely, and give our highest-level effort and complete attention, every time, not just some of the time or when we have the energy. Our passion motivates us to understand our clients' goals and every aspect of their business. Our construction clients appreciate our inclination to poke, prod and probe until we find the best solution for them. Our endless curiosity fuels our creative solutions – solutions that are unique and outside-the-box and above all, successful. It means something that our clients place trust in us to navigate them through often-muddy waters. And in return, we reward them with the results they're looking for. Our experience and their trust equal success. It's a formula that we're passionate about and would want no other way.

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We are driven by solutions, and we embrace each challenge with enthusiasm, innovation and a genuine zest for getting the best result for our client, with no limits to our effort. Examples of Our Solutions »

  • We successfully represented the owner, New Athens Generating Company, LLC, a merchant power company, on a $533 million power plant construction project in upstate New York in a series of complex arbitration proceedings, against the EPC contractor, Bechtel Power Corporation, one of the world's largest power plant construction contractors. Bechtel sought more than $94 million in additional compensation for alleged changes in the cutting-edge power generation technology incorporated into the plant, alleged force majeure severe winter weather encountered during construction, and other alleged changes, delays and force majeure events. New Athens, sought approximately $33 million in liquidated damages due to Bechtel completing the construction more than 200 days late. Due to the complexity of the case, the arbitrators divided the hearing into four phases, with each phase focusing on one of the areas of construction in dispute. The arbitration involved extensive testimony as to power plant combustion turbine engineering, construction scheduling, construction craft labor productivity and ergonomics, meteorology/climatology, chemistry, power industry economics, and construction cost accounting. Altogether, the arbitrators heard 53 days of testimony, from 53 witnesses, received more than 1,300 exhibits, with a transcript of nearly 15,000 pages. The arbitrators rendered several detailed written opinions throughout the arbitration. The final result of the arbitration was that New Athens successfully defeated nearly all of Bechtel's claims and the arbitrators awarded New Athens $26,950,000 in liquidated damages which constituted more than 80% of the liquidated damages sought by New Athens.
  • We represented the general contractor on the San Diego Naval Hospital project in connection with a complex lawsuit brought by two subcontractors against the structural steel supplier, our client and various sureties in Federal Court in San Diego. The claims included claims of mismanagement, compensable delays and changes. After two years of extensive discovery, we were able on motion for partial summary judgment to obtain the dismissal of a multi-million dollar claim against our client. Then, after a three-month jury trial, the structural steel supplier was found liable to the plaintiffs for $3 million and our client was vindicated. We argued the appeal in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and prevailed in that court as well.

  • We defended the State of New Jersey in a lawsuit brought against the State by a major international contractor on a large Superfund remediation project. The engineering firm which designed the project was also made a defendant and cross-defendant. The contractor sought more than $60 million from the State and the State counterclaimed for millions of dollars of liquidated damages due to late completion of the project. Thorough discovery led to effective motions for partial summary judgments which were rendered on the eve of trial forcing the contractor to settle "on the courthouse steps." The contractor's numerous claims involved both civil construction work, as well as vertical construction and complex water purification equipment mechanical work. By utilizing the testimony of an expert in estimating costs for this type of environmental remediation project, we showed that the contractor had underbid the job by millions of dollars. With that expert testimony, we also showed that the contractor's claims for alleged extra costs were, in fact, costs that should have been anticipated and included in the lump sum bid.
  • We represented the general contractor to the U.S. Navy in a massive default termination case tried before the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals. Our client, the general contractor on the Trident Training facility in Kings Bay, Georgia, was terminated by default by the Navy after completing 85% of the project. In this bet-the-company-litigation the Navy was seeking $25 million in damages from the contractor and the contractor was seeking a like amount from the Navy. After employing state of the art systems to manage the millions of pages obtained in discovery and over 100 days of depositions throughout the United States, we developed a case management and trial schedule to maximize both the likelihood of securing early victories and pressuring the Navy to settle. After several very successful trials before the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, the Navy commenced settlement discussions, which ultimately led to a complete settlement in which the Navy withdrew its default termination and paid our client $11 million.

  • Our client was one of two principal owners of a closely-held corporation in the building aggregates industry. Following the sale of the corporation on highly profitable terms, several lawsuits were filed alleging claims by our client against the other former owner for breach of fiduciary duty and alleging claims by the other former owner against our client for fraud and self-dealing. We tried the case before a jury for 90 days. The jury returned a verdict for our client for more than $2 million actual damages plus punitive damages and denied all of the claims against our client.

  • Our client was a real estate developer and owner. A large new development was constructed immediately adjacent to a downtown office building owned by our client. The construction included a large excavation for a multi-story underground parking garage. As a result of the excavation, our client’s building was destabilized, damaged structurally, and had to be evacuated. We filed suit against the excavation and construction firm and the insurer. All parties agreed to mediate the dispute before a mutually agreed-upon professional mediator. Although there was little local legal precedent on point, after thorough legal research in the law of several jurisdictions which had decided similar matters, we presented arguments that the excavation and construction firm was liable under a legal theory of strict liability and that the earth movement exclusion was applicable only to natural earth movement, e.g., earthquake, and not to manmade earth movement. With the assistance of the mediator, the case was settled upon very favorable terms for our client, including the repair and restoration of the building, compensation for lost rental revenues, and compensation for other expenses.

For more information regarding Shapiro, Lifschitz & Schram’s Construction Practice, contact Department Chair Judah ("Judd") Lifschitz at

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?