Design Professionals



For nearly half a century, Wilson Elser has defended malpractice suits and provided pre-claims counsel for a cross-section of prominent architects, engineers, construction managers and contractors, as well as their professional liability insurers. Indeed, we measure our relationships with several of our design professional clients in decades rather than years.  

Our attorneys offer assistance through all phases of construction litigation and counsel, including:

  • Contract negotiations
  • Contract interpretations
  • Claims avoidance
  • Risk management
  • Litigation
  • Arbitration
  • Alternative dispute resolution
  • Appeals

Given our national footprint, there is no need for clients to assemble a network of law firms to serve them in different geographies. Rather, they enjoy the convenience and inherent efficiencies of making one call to one point of contact to manage virtually all of their legal needs.

Many of our attorneys in the firm’s Design Professionals Practice have architectural or engineering backgrounds, including professional degrees and licenses, bringing a practical and technical perspective to the complex claims brought against our clients. Most have been litigating in this area for more than 20 years, and all are able to leverage the considerable resources that reside in a full-service firm such as ours. Practice attorneys frequently collaborate with their counterparts in related disciplines such as construction, environmental law and intellectual property as the case requires.

Our experience runs the gamut from representing design professionals in connection with structural façade failures to delay claims involving transportation centers to the design and construction management of nuclear power plants. Irrespective of venue, client or adversary, we understand the issues – and very likely have dealt with them before – enabling us to determine where the exposure and, therefore, the most cost-effective resolutions lie. We sharpen our advantage by staying on top of the case law, the technological advances, the ever-shifting claims environment, and the industry rules and ethical guidelines that impact architects and engineers daily.

Recognizing that our clients seek cost-effective resolutions of complex and otherwise protracted liability cases, we do our best to accommodate them as necessary through early assessment and reporting, facilitating negotiations, alternate dispute resolutions or summary judgment motions. Opposing counsel’s familiarity with the talents and tenacity of our highly skilled trial attorneys also contributes to early and favorable resolutions.

Through years of practice and involvement in countless cases representing design professionals, we have cultivated a robust network of forensic consultants and construction experts in all areas, including design, scheduling and finance. Their knowledge and credibility substantially increase the likelihood of positive legal outcomes.

In addition to defending claims in state and federal courts, in alternate dispute forums and before professional boards, we also advise clients concerning risk management, helping them reduce exposure to future claims. At the request of many claims managers, underwriters and insurance brokers, we are frequent presenters of seminars designed for architects and engineers and covering a broad range of timely topics relevant to professional liability, malpractice defense and risk management.

Frequently retained as monitoring counsel, our team provides a prompt analysis and evaluation of the claim exposure, manages the progress and cost of the defense, and assists in negotiating the insurer’s settlement contribution. When necessary, we help insurers identify potential coverage issues that may exist and navigate the claim to resolution while helping to ensure the insurer’s coverage obligations are fulfilled.