Why Do I Teach? To Learn Something of Course!

Christopher G. Hill | Construction Law Musings | September 9, 2019

A week ago on Thursday and Friday August 29 and 30, 2019, I had the pleasure of co-teaching a two day module on Contract Administration for the Project Manager Development Program created by the Associated General Contractors of America. This was my favorite kind of class, a class for mostly young construction professionals looking to learn something practical about how contracts affect “on the ground” project management.  While I presented the “legalese” and a construction lawyer’s perspective on the legalities of construction contracting, mechanic’s liens, agency and the like, my co-presenter, Paul Stiles of The Bell Company, told war stories and gave them the benefit of his construction experience to bring this to the practical level for them.

The class covered everything from notice requirements, “killer clauses,” and preparation of claims, to a primer on arbitration/litigation, privity and payment issues.  As always seems to occur, the attendees asked questions that neither Paul or I anticipated.  Their relatively new eyes on the construction management world gave them a perspective that at least I, as a relatively cynical (yes I admit it, the Murphy’s Law governed world of construction has created a bit of cynicism) construction attorney, do not have.  As I always do, I learned from teaching.  Answering these fresh eyed questions taught me as much as imparting the information taught them.

Not only did I have to brush up on how to best explain concepts that I have internalized and know to the point I don’t have to think too much about what they mean (for instance privity) but I also had to think outside the box to answer the questions and respond to the scenarios that these folks have faced in the past or may face in the future.  Further, these teaching opportunities force me to apply the legal concepts (many of which are discussed here at Construction Law Musings) to every day situations that construction pros deal with on a daily basis.  All of the above makes me a better lawyer and counselor.

In short, I truly enjoy teaching classes, whether to young attorneys or in particular for those that I represent on a day to day basis.  I have fun on “Hawaiian Shirt Friday” as shown in the photo accompanying this post (that’s me in the back with the red floral one), but I always come away from the experience having learned something new.  Thanks to my friends at the AGC of Virginia for the opportunity.

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