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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Kenneth R Baker

Kenneth R Baker

HKA11440 West Bernardo CourtSuite 120San DiegoCaliforniaUSA92127

Thought Leader

Thought Leaders - Construction Experts 2020

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Ken Baker is highlighted for his superb ability on loss of productivity and schedule delay claims, combined with near-unmatched experience in the field.

Questions & Answers

Ken has over 40 years of experience as a registered professional engineer and a licensed general contractor. His varied, hands-on project experience provides a strong basis for over 180 expert appointments regarding delay, disruption, and quantum matters. Ken develops expert reports and provides expert testimony in arbitration, litigation and mediation. He specialises in complex construction claims related to delay, lost productivity, acceleration, disputed contract scope and extra work, professional practice issues, construction defect matters, and claim damages.

How has the role of expert witness changed since you started your career?

Changes over the past three decades have added additional challenges to the role of the expert witness. First, the federal rules of evidence changed in the early 1990s to give counsel access to opposing experts prior to trial, via depositions. Life was simpler and easier for testifying experts on federal trials before this change. With it, extra preparation is required for experts to answer all questions posed by opposing counsel outside of the trial setting. Counsel often uses its deposition questions and the expert’s responses strategically as an offensive weapon at trial. Second, mediations are now routinely part of the litigation process – often court-mandated. Expert presentations at mediation are often very different from their trial testimony, so this increases the expert’s invested time and effort. Third, e-discovery is now the standard in litigation so the expert must search, compare and thoroughly review these, often huge, electronic file productions. Experts now need stronger computer skills to work with e-documents compared to the era of hard copies.

What do you enjoy most about your current role?

In my current role, I work as an expert on some of HKA’s largest litigation matters. I have one assignment with US$2 billion in damages and another with damages at several hundred million dollars. The size and scope of these cases usually requires a team of professionals to support the expert. I enjoy working in this team environment. It gives me the opportunity to develop junior and mid-level staff, working shoulder-to-shoulder to unravel complex matters, while facing challenging budgets and time frames – what could be more fun than that?! 

How does your background as a principal engineer and construction manager enhance your current practice?

This experience certainly enhances my credibility as a construction expert and adds value for my clients. My hands-on practice in relevant, technical areas gives me a “navigational system” that guides my expert work. For example, although I wasn’t present during the project, I can understand the reasons certain events happened, and I have insights into why the parties acted as they did and made certain decisions that sometimes don’t stand up well with the benefit of hindsight. 

What is the most challenging aspect of damages and delays analysis today, compared to 10 years ago?

The project schedules continue to grow larger and more complex, making it more difficult to work with these larger data files and the schedules more challenging to analyse. Exacerbating this trend, I also frequently see a great deal of manipulation in these Machiavellian schedules as the parties try to “hide the peanut”.

In your opinion, what will be the long-term effects of the covid-19 pandemic on the construction industry? 

In the short term, because almost every project has been affected in some way, I expect many delay and disruption claims will result – no surprise there. In the long term, greater online collaboration has become a norm of business that is not likely to be discarded. This has also accelerated permanent adoption of the (previously slow-moving) trend of working from home as a normal business practice. Finally, I see business these days as fitting into life, rather than life fitting into business. My clients, colleagues and even competitors are kinder and more thoughtful with each other, and expressing more compassion and understanding of circumstances, which hopefully may become the next norm. 

What impact has the development of technology had on the practice of construction consulting in recent years?

As the design and construction industries have become computer-centric, data-driven worlds, so too has the consulting and expert space. The capture and routine use of real-time data creates better, more relevant decision-making at a much faster pace. Digitisation, artificial intelligence applications, and next generation 5-D building information modelling are three tech developments starting to shape and redefine these businesses. 

What advice would you give to younger practitioners looking to succeed as construction experts?

Become a student of your industry. Learn who’s who in our industry (mediators, experts, litigators, specialists). View forensic work as a graduate-level classroom where you delve into real case studies, ask questions, and learn valuable insights every day that you can apply going forward. Discover how you can contribute to business development via building your business network and developing your own “book of business”. Find a mentor who is able and willing to assist you in building a rewarding career. Most importantly, enjoy your work or go find work that you do enjoy. 

Your career has been an outstanding one to date. What else would you like to accomplish?

I expect to successfully complete several major testimony assignments (referenced previously) over the next few years. Concurrently, I am working hard to help HKA grow and achieve unprecedented success as the world’s largest and best construction expert consultancy. Also concurrently, I really enjoy the time I get to spend helping to develop and enhance the careers of the next generation of testifying experts at HKA and within our industry. It all keeps me very busy – which I like.

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Ken Baker is highlighted for his superb ability on loss of productivity and schedule delay claims, combined with near-unmatched experience in the field.

Biography

Ken is a partner at HKA with more than 40 years of experience in the construction and engineering industries. A registered professional engineer and a licensed general contractor, his varied, hands-on project experience provides a strong basis for over 180 expert appointments in various delay, disruption and quantum matters.

Ken has worked as principal engineer, structural engineer, project manager and construction manager, and in various leadership roles, in the contracting, construction management and claims arenas. He has been involved in design-construction programmes and projects across North America including major infrastructure developments (including rail, roadways, bridges and dams); a wide variety of commercial, institutional, laboratory-research, residential and retail building projects; and major power, water, waste-water and industrial facilities.

Ken’s claims-related expertise includes the identification and evaluation of construction and real estate risk; claims concerning schedule delay and extended performance, lost productivity and disruption, and acceleration; scope, documentation and contract performance requirements; general contractor performance issues; construction manager professional practice issues; and construction defect matters. He has prepared and evaluated as-planned and as-built schedules; contemporaneous and retrospective delay analyses; productivity impact and acceleration analyses; issue merit and responsibility analyses; construction defect lists and repair cost estimates; and cost and damages claims. Ken also provides services to clients in the areas of project advisory risk assessments, claims avoidance and mitigation; distressed real estate asset investigations; mechanics lien claim analysis, priority and valuation; construction management; and general contracting services during pre-construction, design, construction and post-construction.

Ken develops expert reports and provides expert testimony in arbitration, litigation and mediation. He specialises in complex construction claims related to delay, lost productivity, acceleration, disputed contract scope and extra work, professional practice issues, construction defect matters, and claim damages. In support of his extensive expert testimony experience, he has developed graphs, charts spreadsheets, annotated schedules and visual displays of quantitative information for use as trial exhibits and in expert presentations. He has been cross-examined at arbitration and trial on more than 20 occasions, including concurrent evidence (hot-tubbing).

Ken has written articles and delivered numerous seminars regarding his specialist subjects. Clients agree that Ken is a “consummate professional” and that his expertise has been “a key component in being able to reach a negotiated settlement”. Others agree that he “quickly grasped the issues [and] successfully bridged the gap between the parties” and that he “works without bias and in the most neutral manner possible”.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Kenneth Baker is “highly respected and experienced” in a broad range of complex delay, disruption and quantum issues.

Biography

Ken is a partner at HKA with more than 40 years of experience in the construction and engineering industries. A registered professional engineer and a licensed general contractor, his varied, hands-on project experience provides a strong basis for over 180 expert appointments in various delay, disruption and quantum matters.

Ken has worked as principal engineer, structural engineer, project manager and construction manager, and in various leadership roles, in the contracting, construction management and claims arenas. He has been involved in design-construction programmes and projects across North America including major infrastructure developments (including rail, roadways, bridges and dams); a wide variety of commercial, institutional, laboratory-research, residential and retail building projects; and major power, water, waste-water and industrial facilities.

Ken’s claims-related expertise includes the identification and evaluation of construction and real estate risk; claims concerning schedule delay and extended performance, lost productivity and disruption, and acceleration; scope, documentation and contract performance requirements; general contractor performance issues; construction manager professional practice issues; and construction defect matters. He has prepared and evaluated as-planned and as-built schedules; contemporaneous and retrospective delay analyses; productivity impact and acceleration analyses; issue merit and responsibility analyses; construction defect lists and repair cost estimates; and cost and damages claims. Ken also provides services to clients in the areas of project advisory risk assessments, claims avoidance and mitigation; distressed real estate asset investigations; mechanics lien claim analysis, priority and valuation; construction management; and general contracting services during pre-construction, design, construction and post-construction.

Ken develops expert reports and provides expert testimony in arbitration, litigation and mediation. He specialises in complex construction claims related to delay, lost productivity, acceleration, disputed contract scope and extra work, professional practice issues, construction defect matters, and claim damages. In support of his extensive expert testimony experience, he has developed graphs, charts spreadsheets, annotated schedules and visual displays of quantitative information for use as trial exhibits and in expert presentations. He has been cross-examined at arbitration and trial on more than 20 occasions, including concurrent evidence (hot-tubbing).

Ken has written articles and delivered numerous seminars regarding his specialist subjects. Clients agree that Ken is a “consummate professional” and that his expertise has been “a key component in being able to reach a negotiated settlement”. Others agree that he “quickly grasped the issues [and] successfully bridged the gap between the parties” and that he “works without bias and in the most neutral manner possible”.

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