Article Featuring Stuart Sobel in Daily Report: “‘No Shortcut’: Construction Lawyers on Jumping Into the Industry”

Siegfried Rivera
November 9, 2021


An article on the current growth in construction and the opportunities for highly qualified and experienced construction attorneys in Georgia and Florida that appeared recently in the pages of American Lawyer Media’s Daily Report newspaper in Atlanta featured extensive quotes and input from the firm’s Stuart Sobel.  The article reads:

. . . Stuart Sobel, shareholder with the Siegfried Rivera firm in Coral Gables, Florida, has practiced law for 43 years, with the last 26 focused 99% on construction. He said South Florida’s construction market is equally successful today.

“There’s tons of work, and it’s actually been strong for a while, just different segments of the construction market” fluctuating at times, Sobel said. He added the only sector within the construction industry that’s tailed off lately is commercial/retail, due to a rise in online shopping, but he’s seen some development recently in areas such as Doral.

The statistics back up the praise from Shelar and Sobel.

According to the website for Cumming, a Seattle-based consulting firm, the Atlanta construction market is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year and exceed them in 2022. Cumming projects the market to have a value of $24.2 billion in 2021, up from $23.1 billion last year and $23.9 billion in 2019. It also predicts the market’s value to jump to $25.2 billion in 2022. It projected increases in all seven sectors except the “other structures” one.

Cumming has similar predictions for Miami, with a projected value of $20.3 billion, up from $19.5 billion in 2019, though slightly below $20.5 billion last year. The firm anticipates the city’s value to increase to $22.1 billion in 2022 and 22.7 billion in 2023.

On a statewide basis, both Georgia and Florida are doing well. According to a report from Construction Coverage, a San Diego-based company that provides construction industry products and analysis, Florida ($36.9 billion) ranked second behind only Texas ($43.0 billion) nationally in the value of all building permits approved in 2020. Georgia was in the middle of the pack at $11.6 billion.

Sobel and others said lawyers must educate themselves thoroughly on construction law before entering into that practice area. Winging it just won’t do.

“Construction is very specialized,” Sobel said. “And when you want to get involved in it, it’s not like [other practice areas]. It has its own vocabulary. It has its own nuances, so I think if you’re going to be serious about it, you’ve got to learn construction law. A lot of it is statutory, so you have to learn the statutes. The [state’s] lien law, which has been described by the Supreme Court of Florida as the most confusing law on our books, you’ve got to learn it.

“There simply is no shortcut. … The law is not fungible.”

Sobel said at Siegfried Rivera, inexperienced construction lawyers are required to lecture on the industry in front of audiences to help them learn the statutes backward and forward. . .

The article concludes:

. . . Sobel, who also works as a certified mediator, said contracts should also include language to help both sides work out any disagreements early on, and ideally through mediation or arbitration, so they don’t have to later deal with the hassle or cost of a lawsuit to resolve them. . .

. . . Sobel predicts there to be more disputes handled by mediation or arbitration in Florida, where “99%-plus” of disputes are settled before going to trial, because “it’s hard to take a case [to trial] where there’s not a million dollars or more at risk.”

Our firm salutes Stuart for sharing his insights on the state of the construction industry and construction law with the readers of the Daily ReportClick here to read the complete article in the newspaper’s website (registration required).