Andrew Rhodes
The Grant Building, 23rd Floor
310 Grant Street
+1 412 227 3672

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Construction

Andrew Rhodes is the president and founder of The Rhodes Group. He is a recognised expert in the areas of construction schedule delay analysis, labour productivity and construction-related damages. With over 20 years of experience, Mr Rhodes has conducted and directed the analysis of hundreds of construction-related claims in connection with formal disputes and on-going projects. He is respected within the industry for his independence, attention to detail, credibility and strength under cross-examination.

Describe your career to date.

My background is in civil and structural engineering. I began my career as a project engineer for a large engineering firm, where I observed first-hand the complexities associated with engineering and constructing large-scale projects. While I did not originally set out to be a construction consultant, I was drawn to the idea of helping contractors and owners manage risk related to schedule and cost. I joined Peterson Worldwide, later acquired by Navigant Consulting, where I first established myself as a testifying expert. I founded The Rhodes Group (then Duggan & Rhodes) in 1999, based on a business model designed to provide more personal attention to each client. Our original focus was on local and regional contractors and owners. Over the past 20 years, we’ve scaled our growth to match the needs of some of the industry’s largest global players – consulting on projects and to clients located in North America, South America, Australia, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and Africa – while still offering the same personal dedication to each client.

What challenges did you face establishing yourself as an expert in the construction industry?

I was frequently told I needed “more grey hair.” I was 28 when I first testified, and I generally faced a perception that an expert needed to be older and more “seasoned”. My challenge was to show that I knew and understood the relevant issues on the project – and the related industry-accepted analyses – inside and out. By knowing the details, and being able to simplify the complex, I gained the trust and respect of construction attorneys who had been in the industry much longer than I had (and to whom I’m grateful for the early opportunities to serve as a testifying expert). I have a few grey hairs now, but I still make it a point to draw upon my knowledge of the project details to credibly substantiate and defend my expert analyses. I’ve now testified on over 45 occasions and been designated as the testifying expert on matters with claims exceeding US$1 billion.

How has the market changed since you started your career?

I don’t know if it’s a matter of the market changing or our position within the market changing, but I’ve certainly noticed an increase in disputes related to projects executed with cost-reimbursable contracts, or cost-reimbursable components. This is particularly true on large-scale EPC projects within the oil and gas, power, and industrial sectors. There’s the general perception that the owner carries most of the cost-related risk under a cost-reimbursable arrangement, but I believe, just as with lump-sum contracts, contractors can expose themselves to unanticipated risk for cost as well, particularly when change procedures aren’t followed and/or changes to the planned schedule and cost aren’t well documented.

I’ve also seen an increased interest in incorporating our perspective earlier in the project. More and more frequently, we are engaged at the moment when issues that impact time and/or costs are encountered, and well before such issues have escalated to a formal dispute. In addition, clients more regularly seek out training related to change management and the proper substantiation of claims, indicating a stronger internal focus on managing cost and schedule-related risks proactively.

What do clients look for in an effective expert witness?

Credibility is paramount. As an expert, I need to know the details of each specific issue and how each claim can be substantiated through industry-accepted methodologies. An effective expert will also be able to convey complex matters in a simple and easy-to-understand format, geared specifically to their intended audience – whether that be the client, attorney, arbitrator, judge, jury or other parties engaged in the process of resolving the dispute. Some of the projects we work on are massive, with highly technical issues – it’s critical that I am able to relay that information accurately and simply.

What are your priorities for the firm’s development over the next five years?

My priority is always to maintain the high-quality standard for our work product that is the hallmark of our reputation within the industry. While our firm continues to grow – both in number of staff members and geographic reach – our ability to consistently provide high-quality, credible analysis is extremely important. Over almost two decades, I’ve also made growing organically a priority. This means providing team members at all levels of experience with opportunities to deepen their understanding of construction disputes, such that they can use that perspective to expand the firm’s efforts to provide high-quality and valuable services across all of our service areas.

Based on your experience as an expert, what advice would you give your clients?

Maintaining the sufficient records and data required to properly defend or substantiate claims isn’t something you do only when a formal dispute is imminent. While claim avoidance is preferable, unanticipated events will occur that make requests for adjustments to cost and/or time unavoidable. In these circumstances, I recommend starting claim management efforts early – when the event giving rise to additional costs and/or delay occurs. By the time an issue is the subject of a formal dispute, numerous project records and an abundance of data may or may not have been generated. The records and data are what they are; and thus, opportunities to capture sufficient records and data required to properly substantiate or defend claims – consistent with industry-accepted standards – may have been lost. It is critical that the project team understands the records and data required to sufficiently substantiate and analyse potential claims, such that consistent communications can be generated based on informed positions. Such efforts will typically help to facilitate a more timely and equitable resolution of the claims at any stage.


Who's Who Legal Construction: Expert Witnesses

Andrew Rhodes, CCP, PSP is the president and founder of the Rhodes Group, an international construction consulting firm with offices in Pittsburgh, PA and Houston, Texas. Mr Rhodes is a recognised expert in the areas of schedule delay analysis, labour productivity and construction-related damages.  He has been designated a testifying expert in connection with domestic and international arbitrations, federal and state court proceedings and Board of Claim hearings. Mr Rhodes has testified on more than 45 occasions. He is respected within the industry for his independence, attention to detail, credibility and strength under cross-examination. Mr Rhodes has also served as a mediator and as a dispute resolution board-appointed expert.

With over 20 years of experience, Mr Rhodes has conducted and directed the analysis of hundreds of construction-related claims in connection with formal disputes and ongoing projects. He has evaluated claims ranging in value from US$5 million to more than US$750 million. His complex project experience spans various industry sectors and includes: LNG plants; oil refineries; pipelines; chemical plants; nuclear, solar, coal and gas-fired power generation facilities; heavy civil projects; steel mills; stadiums; university facilities; casinos; mining facilities and commercial buildings. Mr Rhodes has provided construction consulting services on projects and to clients located in North America, South America, Australia, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and Africa.

Mr Rhodes graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Lehigh University. Mr Rhodes also obtained a Master of Science degree in structural engineering from Lehigh University. He is a certified cost professional (CCP) and a planning and scheduling professional (PSP).

WWL says: Andrew Rhodes is a “fantastic” construction specialist who boasts a great reputation in the market among clients who “would use him in a heartbeat”.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Construction which can be purchased from our Shop.

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