The real estate and construction industry is a major component of the global economy. In the U.S. alone, nearly seven million people are employed in related occupations. Industry leaders in this sprawling and vital sector who are seeking to rebuild from the market collapse of 2009 must be prepared to evolve and adapt. They must respond wisely to increased foreign investment, an abundance of private equity capital, slowed macroeconomic growth, technological innovation and demand for greener buildings. To succeed in the coming decade, they need lawyers who understand both where the industry has been and where it is going.
Cozen O’Connor has a renowned real estate and construction practice that provides clients with the long-range perspective members of the industry demand. Our attorneys regularly counsel clients on acquisitions, development, financing, construction, disposition, and disputes. The firm’s dedicated real estate lawyers are often involved in the industry’s most sophisticated deals and most complex litigation. They are privy to—and often a driving force behind—critical legal advancements. Moreover, our practice has a truly national reach, with attorneys in each of the firm’s offices who have notable experience serving the real estate and construction industry.
We represent commercial and residential developers, shopping center and office developers, property owners, real estate investment trusts, banks and lenders, investors, national and regional retail companies, real estate brokerage companies, public and privately held companies, property management companies, municipalities, general contractors and subcontractors, architects and engineers, building owners and manufacturers of construction-related products. Our attorneys counsel clients on issues related to office buildings, shopping centers, warehouses, commercial and industrial structures, highways, bridges, dams, docks, piers, refineries, drilling structures, and all residential structures from single-family dwellings to apartment house complexes.
Real estate and construction are exceedingly technical fields, and Cozen O’Connor attorneys are known for the depth of their technical knowledge. Whether discussing the specifics of compressive strength, load specifications, liquidation calculations, or insurance rates, our attorneys are fluent in industry-specific terminology, operations and formulas. Having lawyers with this degree of substantive background saves time, improves communication and results in more sophisticated advocacy on behalf of our clients.
Defend clients in commercial disputes involving real estate transactions
Represent construction clients in cases of catastrophic personal injury or death, design errors and omissions, defects, surety and performance bond default matters, “sick building” syndrome and delay/cost overrun damages
Respond to OSHA and ADA civil rights violation claims
Lead industry-wide construction products litigation and arbitrations
Lead real estate acquisitions, dispositions, development and leasing deals
Analyze and prepare construction-related contracts
Arrange complex financings via senior debt, mezzanine debt or structured finance
Perform loan restructuring, workouts and foreclosures
Handle environmental impact assessments and risk allocation
Advise clients on partnering, leasing and zoning transactions
Corporate and Regulatory
Provide guidance on insurance, indemnification, mechanic’s liens and surety
Counsel clients on OSHA and ADA compliance
Assist clients with environmental regulations, land use, zoning and condemnation laws
Advise construction and real estate professionals on industry best practices and standards
Labor & Employment
Insurance Coverage Claims/Litigation
October 11, 2019
Michael Hanlon and Fran Rayer discuss the new Pennsylvania law affecting the construction industry that goes into effect on October 6, 2020.
August 22, 2017
Fred Jacoby, Ray DeLuca, and Jeff Mullen, of Cozen O'Connor's Construction Law Group, published, "Indemnity and Additional Insureds: Tools for Risk Shifting," in The Legal's Construction Law supplement.
April 19, 2017
David B. Lipner discusses the amendment to Pennsylvania’s Mechanics’ Lien Law of 1963 that allows for an online State Construction Notices Directory to provide notice to parties involved in projects costing a minimum of $1,500,000.
September 15, 2015
Florida Governor Rick Scott signed HB 87 into law, codified at ch. 2015-165, which amends the Florida’s Construction Defect Statute. These amendments will go into effect on October 1, 2015
December 08, 2014
Ken Fisher, a member in the firm's Business Law Department, discusses New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo impact on infrastructure and real estate development in New York City.
March 14, 2014
Construction companies operating in multiple jurisdictions are finding that standardized language used in typical liability policies is subject to considerably different interpretations from one state to another.
July 22, 2013
On July 10, 2013, the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) issued draft regulations filling in the compliance requirements of Philadelphia’s mandatory energy and water disclosure ordinance (the Disclosure Ordinance) that was enacted in June 2012. The draft regulations will become final on August 2, 2013.
January 07, 2013
Besides extending the lower tax rates for millions of Americans, as well as avoiding across the board federal budget cuts, the eleventh-hour legislative compromise reinstated two business and personal tax credits applicable to energy efficiency residences and appliances. Contractors or developers of homes or low-rise multi-family projects, as well as individuals considering energy efficient renovations or appliance purchases, should consider the availability of these tax credits.
December 14, 2012
In August 2012, the mayor of Philadelphia signed into law Bill 120428-A, which establishes new energy benchmarking requirements for owners of certain large commercial and mixed-use buildings. The energy benchmarking bill requires owners of “covered buildings” to report and disclose data annually related to energy and water usage and other building characteristics.1 Covered buildings include any commercial
building with at least 50,000 square feet, and all commercial portions of any mixed-use building where at least 50,000 square feet of the building is devoted to commercial use.
March 01, 2012
''Wrap'' insurance programs have become a popular alternative to traditional insurance arrangements, particularly on large construction projects. However, contractors need to be aware of some of the unique issues that arise in wrap programs - specifically, liability insurance wraps.
July 05, 2011
New Accounting Rules to Require Tenants to Reflect Operating Leases on Balance Sheet - Real Estate Alert! - consider the possible impact of new accounting rules to be issued shortly by the Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board. These rules likely will eliminate the accounting distinctions between an operating lease and a capital lease, thus eliminating a tenant's ability to keep "liabilities" under an operating lease off its balance sheet.
June 01, 2011
Energy Alchemy: Turning Building Energy Use into a Profit Center - Real Estate Alert! - This Alert describes various strategies that a building owner or manager might employ to reduce energy costs or even transform them into building revenues. Co-Author Shapiro is both an attorney and a LEED Accredited Professional, and maintains a blog on green building legal issues at www.greenbuildinglawblog.com.
April 01, 2011
Bid Rigging In The Crosshairs - Construction Today -
February 01, 2011
Hidden Traps: Builders should watch for the pitfalls of the Interstate Land Sale Full Disclosure Act - Construction Today -
January 19, 2011
Pennsylvania Licensing Boards' Penalty Assessments Increasing - Real Estate Alert! - This Alert cautions Pennsylvania real estate owners and property managers to examine whether their customary operating practices could lead to severe fines for the unlicensed practice of real estate brokerage by their executives and employees. While the Alert focuses on Pennsylvania law, the basic message is valid in all jurisdictions -- a periodic review of your customary operating procedures is critical to avoid a "drift" into administrative or regulatory minefields.
October 19, 2010
On October 19, 2010, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a notice in the Federal Register proposing to change the way in which the noise exposure standards for construction and general industry are interpreted, and modifying its enforcement policy accordingly.
October 15, 2010
The Developers' To-Do List While Waiting for Money to Thaw - Real Estate Alert! - Tempting though it may be to spend time and effort on projects and tasks that got shunted aside during the heyday of the last real estate boom, but never went away, or on non-business pursuits, this is a perfect time -- even a critical time -- to position yourself and your businesses for the next economy. Please call us for additional suggestions, implementation advice, or just a good sounding board for your own ideas.
September 15, 2010
It’s Not Easy Being Green: New York City Adopts New Requirements Concerning Energy and Water Use Benchmarking, Energy Audits, Energy Use Retro-Commissioning, Lighting System Retrofitting and Electricity Submetering for Covered Buildings - Real Estate Alert! - This Alert addresses three local laws requiring energy conservation measures by owners of New York City residential and non-residential buildings containing more than 50,000 square feet of area. Although two of these local laws have compliance deadlines that are far in the future, some as early as 2013 and some as late as 2025, there are real advantages for those owners who elect to perform the work immediately.
August 30, 2010
This article addresses the drafting and interpretation of a provision found in all leases: the ''default provision.'' Specifically, this article provides an analysis of the ultra-subtle and ''age-old distinction'' between the ''conditional limitation'' and the ''condition subsequent'' (the latter sometimes referred to as a ''condition''). The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York has noted that, when it comes to distinguishing between these two types of default provisions, New York courts have been ''far from consistent.''
August 01, 2010
SHARING RISK: Indemnification can be a valuable tool for builders - Construction Today - a familiar scenario – you are the general contractor on a large commercial project; the cast of characters working with you is huge,
the relationships complex. As the general contractor, your primary responsibility is the coordination of the construction, including scheduling and logistics so the work of your subcontractors is carried out as efficiently and smoothly as possible
July 07, 2010
Pennsylvania Suspends the Expiration Dates of Development Permits and Approvals Until July 2, 2013 - Real Estate Alert! - This Alert addresses an Act passed by the Pennsylvania Legislature and signed by the Governor just this week, suspending the expiration dates of development permits and approvals issued by state and local governments and agencies throughout Pennsylvania. The Act applies to permits and approvals that expired after December 31, 2008, as well as those permits and approvals that are otherwise scheduled to expire prior to July 2, 2013.
June 21, 2010
Truth in Labelling: Is that lease really ‘triple net’? - New York Law Journal - No matter the label, the “ triple net” nature
of a lease ultimately depends upon its financial
terms and allocation of risk. It is, however, usually inaccurate and misleading to conceptualize what is essentially a space lease transaction, shift some of the payment and/or performance obligations from the landlord to the tenant, and characterize the result as a “triple net lease.”
May 03, 2010
Colorado Legislature Poised to Alter Landscape of Insurance Coverage for Construction Defects - Insurance Coverage Alert! - Later this week the Colorado State Legislature is expected to pass HB 1394, a bill that will dramatically change the insurance coverage available for construction professionals arising out of faulty construction. The stated purpose of HB 1394 is to reverse General Security Indem. Co. of America v. Mountain States Mut. Cas. Co., 205 P.3d 529 (Colo. App. 2009), which held that claims for damages arising from poor workmanship, standing alone, do not allege an accident that constitutes a
April 01, 2010
Winning The Bid - Construction Today Quarterly - With the proliferation of public / private partnership, the potential launching of the PPIP program as part of the Federal Government’s Stimulus Plan and the need to plug financing holes with public funds on what in the past were exclusively privately funded deals, there are many pitfalls for the unwary developer / owner. One of the more unique aspects of publicly funded projects (whether in whole or in part) is the selection of contractors.
April 01, 2010
Who's At Fault? - Construction Today Quarterly -
July 09, 2009
Chinese Drywall Litigation - Subrogation Whitepaper - In a prior Alert, Defective Drywall: The Not‐So‐Great Wall of China1, we discussed the reported problems with Chinese‐manufactured drywall (“Chinese drywall”). This whitepaper provides an overview of pending litigation
arising out of the issues associated with Chinese drywall. From 2004 through 2006, the housing boom and rebuilding efforts necessitated by various hurricanes led to a shortage of construction materials. As a result, U.S. builders and suppliers
April 01, 2009
Tips for Expert Witnesses - Structure Magazine -
March 17, 2009
Construction Defects - Colorado Court of Appeals Rules Faulty Workmanship is Not an Occurrence - Insurance Coverage Alert! - On February 19, 2009, the Colorado Court of Appeals
held that a claim for damages arising from poor
workmanship, standing alone, does not allege an
accident that constitutes an occurrence, regardless of the
underlying legal theory pled. General Security Indemnity
Company of AZ v. Mountain States Mutual Cas. Co. (Case Nos.
CA07CA2291 & 07CA2292, February 19, 2009).
February 01, 2009
Under the new Obama administration, Congress is expected to pass legislation to inject much needed capital into government projects. However, in the current economic climate, the construction industry landscape is a potential legal minefield and contractors should proceed with caution. In the words of Cozen O'Connor's F. Warren Jacoby, ''With the high cost of litigation, few contractors can weather more than one significant claim, irrespective of whether or not they are liable.''
February 01, 2009
BIM! You've Been Sued! - STRUCTURE - It has not happened yet. To date, no law- suit has been filed based upon the use of
Building Information Modeling (BIM) in a
project. But it will. It's only a matter of time.
Up until recently, BIM has mostly been used
as a design tool in experimental, high profile,
complex construction projects like the Freedom
Tower at the former World Trade Center site,
the London Hospital project, and refurbishment
January 28, 2009
Dangerous Liaisons: What to Do Before Things Go Wrong - Constructor Magazine - An indemnification or hold- harmless clause in a construction contract shifts liability and protects parties involved in the agreement.
Take a typical scenario: an owner hires an architect and a general contractor to design and build an addition. The general contractor hires various subcontractors. During construction, a collapse occurs, causing extensive damage and injuries. The injured workers file lawsuits against the owner, architect, GC and various subs.
August 01, 2008
Risk Management 101 - BEST'S REVIEW - The value of customer data is recognized by all businesses. Each piece of data brings power but also risks. You can use it, sell it, update it, ignore it - even and here's the catch - lose it.
If your business possesses personal, identifiable, information such as Social Security numbers of dates of birth, customer account information such as account numbers and expiration dates, or medical records, then you have a legal duty to maintain the privacy of that information.
July 10, 2008
Construction Contract Pitfalls - ForConstructionPros.Com - Whether you have a high-priced lawyer on retainer, a lawyer friend, or no legal advisor whatsoever, before you sign on any dotted line - you must personally read the contract - the whole contract - thoroughly understand it, and ensure you can live up to its terms. Many believe that as long as the business terms are
acceptable, they do not have to pay attention to all the legal "mumbo jumbo." Nothing could be further from the truth. There are a number of boilerplate terms in construction
July 08, 2008
Hiring the Right Subcontractor for the Job - ForConstructionPros.com - A general contractor is like the head coach of a football team: the buck stops here. When there are problems on a construction project, the owner expects the contractor to fix them.
Sometimes a contractor can compel the subcontractor who caused the problem to fix it. For example, if the HVAC system isn't working properly, the contractor can have the HVAC subcontractor patch the leaking ducts or re-balance the system. But sometimes it doesn't
April 01, 2008
The Electronic Paper Chase: What You Don’t Save Can Hurt You - Constructor - Over the past decade, an increasing amount of business is being conducted electronically, much of it by e-mail. It's estimated that there are more than one billion business e -mails created in the U.S. each day. Less than 20% of these are ever printed, and 95% or more of all new
documents are stored electronically. Some formal structure was needed to govern this volume of data within the litigation context.
March 25, 2008
Insurance Coverage is Not One Size Fits All - ForConstructionPros.Com - Construction contractors typically secure commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policies and assume that these policies address all of their risks. However, these CGL policies may not always apply or cover all risk scenarios that a contractor may face in a construction project. In fact, there are a variety of instances in which CGL policies may not provide the protection contemplated by a contractor. Let's discuss a few.
January 01, 2008
Contract Clauses to Know and Love - STRUCTURE -
December 01, 2007
The Effect of Co-workers’ Actions in Scaffold Law Cases - The Defense Association of New York - The superseding actions of a third party have long been recognized in negligence cases as breaking the link between a defendant’s conduct and a plaintiff’s injury. The defense is also available when defending Labor Law § 240(1) claims, and Labor Law attorneys should keep this in mind.
December 01, 2007
Are You Really Covered By Your Insurance? - STRUCTURE - Engineers and other entities in the construction industry must understand their policies, the extent of the coverage provided, the effects of various exclusions in the polices and the duties arising under the policies and applicable contracts (in terms of defending or indemnifying another contractor or subcontractor) in order to adequately protect themselves when a catastrophic event occurs during construction.
October 01, 2007
The Care and Feeding of an Expert Witness - Watch Out, They May Bite! - STRUCTURE -
September 01, 2007
Sorting Out Liability after a Disaster - STRUCTURE - Architects and engineers are often involved in all aspects of planning and designing a building, perhaps supervising construction and maintaining safety standards. A person providing such professional services has the legal duty to exercise the degree of skill, care and diligence common to other professional members under similar circumstances. Because architects and engineers possess knowledge, skill and training superior to that of the ordinary person,
October 07, 2019
Cozen O’Connor today announced attorneys Christopher M. Sweeney and Alexandra E. Busch have joined its Washington D.C. Construction Law practice, bringing to four the number of lawyers who have joined the fast-growing practice in just the past two weeks.
August 28, 2019
Best Lawyers selected 138 Cozen O’Connor lawyers from 21 of the firm’s national offices for inclusion in the 2020 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.
June 14, 2019
The Legal 500 United States named Cozen O’Connor’s Aviation, Construction, Immigration, Insurance, and Maritime practices and Cozen O'Connor attorneys Scott Bettridge, Raymond DeLuca, Geoffrey Ferrer, Bruce Ficken, David Heffernan, Jeffrey Lawrence, Robert Magovern, Anne Mickey, and Jeffrey Mullen to its 2019 Legal Guide.
April 03, 2019
Adam Silverman, a member of Cozen O'Connor’s Real Estate Practice Group in Philadelphia, has been elected a Fellow in the American College of Real Estate Lawyers (ACREL).
January 11, 2019
David Shimkin, a member in the firm's Commercial Litigation Department, was quoted in Law360's article, "Calif. Builders Strategize Ahead Of 2020 Solar Panel Rules."
September 14, 2018
Paul Rutter, a member in Real Estate, was featured in the Dealmaker Section of the Daily Journal. Paul led the Cozen O'Connor team that negotiated real estate investment and development firm McCarthy Cook & Co.'s $179.7 million acquisition of an office campus in Mountain View.
November 13, 2017
Jeffery Gilbert, a member of Cozen O'Connor's Commercial Litigation department, was quoted in the Daily Business Review's article, "Investors Accused of Rigging Foreclosure Auctions Bought More Than 1,200 Properties."
September 13, 2017
Jeffrey Mills, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Real Estate Practice, discusses how competitive incentives could benefit Amazon’s search for a new headquarters in the Philadelphia Business Journal.
May 12, 2017
Leni Cummins, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Real Estate Practice Group, discusses the rise in political signage on condominium and cooperative units and the legal implications for their boards in The Cooperator.
May 04, 2017
Ken Fisher, a member of Cozen O'Connor's Business Law Department, shares his client's hopes for a new office space.
April 25, 2017
Four lawyers from Pepper Hamilton have joined Cozen O’Connor to spearhead the Construction Law Group. For more than three decades, these lawyers have successfully handled some of the largest and most complex construction litigation matters throughout the United States and abroad.
May 27, 2016
Chambers USA recognized 41 Cozen O’Connor lawyers as leaders in their respective fields; 12 attorneys were recognized nationally and 11 were ranked in the top band.
March 04, 2016
Howard Grossman, senior counsel in Cozen O'Connor's Real Estate practice group, discusses the implications of higher property taxes in Philadelphia.
February 22, 2016
Benjamin Suckewer and Daniel Levin recently closed an $80 million land and construction loan for a Brooklyn residential project.
February 20, 2016
Leni Cummins discusses the allocation of common expenses in cooperatives in The New York Times and Habitat.
February 13, 2016
Leni Cummins, member of Cozen O'Connor's Real Estate practice group, discusses building maintenance responsibilities in The New York Times.
January 19, 2016
Leni Cummins, member of Cozen O'Connor's Real Estate practice group, discusses drone usage by condominiums and cooperatives in The Cooperator.
January 13, 2016
F. Warren Jacoby, a member of Cozen O'Connor's Litigation department, discusses wealth transfer benefits of captive insurance.
January 07, 2016
Howard Grossman, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Real Estate Practice Group, discusses the Philadelphia residential real estate market and its recent unprecedented boom over the last two years.
July 06, 2015
Chambers USA recognized 37 Cozen O’Connor lawyers as leaders in their respective fields; 12 attorneys were recognized nationally and 10 were ranked in the top band.