Ranked by Chambers USA as a leader in construction law for 11 consecutive years, Sarah represents owners, contractors, developers, architects and engineers, both in the US and abroad, in all stages of the construction process. Co-chair of the firm’s national construction law and international arbitration group, she focuses her practice on large, capital-intensive construction projects, with a particular emphasis on drafting and negotiating contracts for complex and unique construction and infrastructure, as well as litigating disputes involving such projects both in the courtroom and in domestic and international arbitration.
What attracted you to a career in construction law?
I like the complexity of the building process and the creation of an urban landscape and streetscape, and the impact that infrastructure has on a society for decades or even centuries to come.
What do enjoy most about working in the area?
Building requires teamwork, between owners, developers, construction managers/design builders/general contractors, design professionals, and subcontractors. I enjoy working with teams, both in contract negotiations and dispute resolution. I also like that construction requires a lawyer to be well versed in many other areas of law, including bankruptcy, insurance, corporate law, negligence, environmental, and, in my practice, domestic and international dispute resolution.
How has the role of a construction lawyer changed since you started practising?
Construction lawyers are required to become trusted advisers and thus are well versed in the business of construction as it relates to many different market sectors such as educational institutions, hospitals, power facilities, transportation, museums and hospitality, to name a few.
How does your work in contract negotiation inform the dispute resolution matters you handle?
In contract negotiations, you focus on defining the parties’ obligations, allocating risk and understanding and appreciating the business terms for the type of construction at issue. All of those issues come to the fore in dispute resolution.
What are some significant technological developments that are impacting the construction sector?
Wireless technology; building information modelling; blockchain; 3D scanning technology; 3D printing; facial recognition; smart contracts; GPS technology; drones; and advancements in communications and fabrication of materials used in the construction process are all having a major impact on the industry.
How does Fox Rothschild distinguish itself from the competition?
We have more than 50 lawyers in our construction group who deal with all facets of construction, including government contracts, and we have 27 offices nationwide. We are able to provide localised domestic private and public contract advice throughout the US. We also are engaged in many projects internationally, from contract negotiation and project administration to dispute resolution.
How do you see your practice developing over the next five years?
I believe that we will deepen and expand our construction practice both domestically and internationally, and that my practice will expand in a similar fashion.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in construction law?
One must enjoy working in a fast-paced and somewhat litigious industry with stakeholders who have conflicting interests. Also, if a young lawyer wants to do international work and be involved with the creation of major infrastructure projects, this is the place to be.
Sarah Biser is widely recognised as a leading construction expert by peers across the Middle East, US and Europe. Her practice encompasses the full range of contentious and non-contentious matters.
Sarah Biser is a partner in the New York office of Fox Rothschild LLP, a national firm with 27 offices and more than 800 attorneys. Ranked by Chambers USA as a leader in construction law for 10 consecutive years, Sarah represents owners, contractors, developers, architects and engineers, both in the US and abroad, in all stages of the construction process. She focuses her practice on large, capital-intensive construction projects, with a particular emphasis on drafting and negotiating contracts for complex and unique construction and infrastructure, as well as litigating disputes involving such projects both in the courtroom and in domestic and international arbitration.
In a project expected to be the largest development of the decade in New York City, Sarah represented Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in connection with the Technion-Cornell joint venture, the establishment of a new applied science and engineering university and related facilities on Roosevelt Island. She was involved in the construction of InterActive Corporation's futuristic headquarters and AOL's headquarters, including the CNN newsroom, in the Time Warner building. Internationally, she represents one of the joint venture partners constructing the expansion of the Panama Canal, and represented developers and EPC contractors in the construction and litigation of power projects.
Sarah has also been involved in the construction of industrial smelters, museums, waste ammonia recovery systems, solar power installations, health care facilities, and energy enhancement programs for a domestic major power producer. She is currently defending a European construction company in connection with Defense Base Act claims arising out of the 1968 crash of a B-52 bomber carrying nuclear warheads at an airbase in Greenland. She co-authors the leading treatise on construction law in New York.