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Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Sharon Vogel wins acclaim from sources for her “strong commercial sense and excellent grasp of key issues”. Her practice focuses on construction disputes relating to large infrastructure projects, where she acts as a mediator and litigator, as well as counsel in arbitration proceedings.

Questions & Answers

Sharon Vogel is a partner in the construction and infrastructure group of Singleton Urquhart Reynolds Vogel LLP. She studied at the University of Toronto (LLB) and the University of Auckland (LLM). Sharon practises construction and surety law, working primarily on construction disputes relating to major infrastructure projects. Sharon is co-author of A Guide to Canadian Construction Insurance Law, and is certified as a specialist in construction law by the Law Society of Upper Canada. She is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the Canadian College of Construction Lawyers.

What inspired you to pursue a legal career?

What inspired me to think about law as a profession was the intellectual challenges associated with solving problems and being part of a profession that focused on dispute resolution, which is something that always interested me. When I started in my career I did not know that I was going to focus on construction law, but I knew that I wanted to practise some form of dispute resolution.

What do you enjoy most about working on disputes?

I enjoy the challenge of trying to solve complex puzzles, and working with clients closely to resolve the difficult issues that they are facing. Luckily, in the area of construction law the disputes are very interesting, and the clients are a pleasure to work with.

How has the market changed since you first started practising?

I think there has been an increase in specialisation within the legal market in the area of construction law, and you see fewer generalists practising in this area. There is also an increase in specialisation within construction law, in relation to lawyers choosing to focus on front-end contractor work, or disputes work related to construction law. In terms of the changes in the market, varying contracting models are being used on construction projects, and – with the introduction of PPP projects and other forms of contracting – lawyers are adapting their practices to take into account these market changes. I also think that changes in technology have had, and will continue to have, a very significant impact on construction law. You see already artificial intelligence making an impact on construction law.

What makes Singleton Urquhart Reynolds Vogel stand out from its competitors in the market?

I think it is our focus on construction and infrastructure law that makes us stand out from our competitors. The construction industry drives the practice – we work on some of the most complex construction cases, and we have the bench strength to handle significant disputes. We have a wonderful team that can pull together to handle all kinds of disputes, as well as front-end contract drafting mandates. This way, we provide cradle-to-grave service for construction mandates.

Why do you think mediation is becoming increasingly popular as a form of dispute resolution within the construction industry?

It is a way to resolve disputes at a fairly early stage without incurring huge expense. It is also a facilitative process that helps parties to maintain ongoing business relationships. In relation to the construction industry, parties may deal with each other over extended periods of time on one large project or on a series of projects, such that maintaining good relationships when disputes arise is important. Meditation can help to preserve those relationships.

How do you expect the changes as a result of Ontario’s new Construction Act to affect your practice?

The new Construction Act will have quite a significant impact on the practice of construction law in this province. The modernisation provisions will help to make the process of dealing with lien proceedings more efficient. In relation to the prompt-payment provisions, lawyers will need to play a strong role in ensuring that clients comply with prompt-payment provisions and have internal procedures that allow them to pay within the time frames set out in the Act. For construction lawyers, one of the most significant changes in the Act is the introduction of adjudication, which is new in Ontario. So for construction lawyers, this will have a very important impact on their practice in that they will have to adapt to dealing with disputes very swiftly, as has occurred in the UK over the past 20 years.

How is increasing specialism in construction law impacting the legal market?

Increasing specialism is causing a reduction in generalist practices. We see firms adopting different strategies, in relation to their construction practices. There is a focus on meeting client needs – lawyers provide a range of services to the industry. If a client requires front-end help, lawyers help them with contract drafting requirements; if a client needs project-shadowing services for a project, lawyers provide that service. If significant problems arise in the form of claims or disputes, the right specialised members of the legal team are brought in to assist with those disputes. The important thing with a specialism is that you also have available to clients the right ancillary expertise in areas such as immigration and workplace, health and safety, so you can provide a full-service offering to construction-industry clients.

What advice would you give to younger practitioners hoping to be in your position one day?

Do what you enjoy. Be open to investigating what areas in the practice of law interest you, then pursue those areas. Find good mentors and champions and learn from them.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Sharon Vogel wins acclaim from sources for her “strong commercial sense and excellent grasp of key issues”. Her practice focuses construction disputes relating to large infrastructure projects, where she acts as a mediator and litigator, as well as counsel in arbitration proceedings.

Questions & Answers

Sharon Vogel is a partner in the construction and infrastructure group of Singleton Urquhart Reynolds Vogel LLP. She studied at the University of Toronto (LLB) and the University of Auckland (LLM). Sharon practises construction and surety law, working primarily on construction disputes relating to major infrastructure projects. Sharon is co-author of A Guide to Canadian Construction Insurance Law, and is certified as a specialist in construction law by the Law Society of Upper Canada. She is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the Canadian College of Construction Lawyers.

What inspired you to pursue a legal career?

What inspired me to think about law as a profession was the intellectual challenges associated with solving problems and being part of a profession that focused on dispute resolution, which is something that always interested me. When I started in my career I did not know that I was going to focus on construction law, but I knew that I wanted to practise some form of dispute resolution.

What do you enjoy most about working on disputes?

I enjoy the challenge of trying to solve complex puzzles, and working with clients closely to resolve the difficult issues that they are facing. Luckily, in the area of construction law the disputes are very interesting, and the clients are a pleasure to work with.

How has the market changed since you first started practising?

I think there has been an increase in specialisation within the legal market in the area of construction law, and you see fewer generalists practising in this area. There is also an increase in specialisation within construction law, in relation to lawyers choosing to focus on front-end contractor work, or disputes work related to construction law. In terms of the changes in the market, varying contracting models are being used on construction projects, and – with the introduction of PPP projects and other forms of contracting – lawyers are adapting their practices to take into account these market changes. I also think that changes in technology have had, and will continue to have, a very significant impact on construction law. You see already artificial intelligence making an impact on construction law.

What makes Singleton Urquhart Reynolds Vogel stand out from its competitors in the market?

I think it is our focus on construction and infrastructure law that makes us stand out from our competitors. The construction industry drives the practice – we work on some of the most complex construction cases, and we have the bench strength to handle significant disputes. We have a wonderful team that can pull together to handle all kinds of disputes, as well as front-end contract drafting mandates. This way, we provide cradle-to-grave service for construction mandates.

Why do you think mediation is becoming increasingly popular as a form of dispute resolution within the construction industry?

It is a way to resolve disputes at a fairly early stage without incurring huge expense. It is also a facilitative process that helps parties to maintain ongoing business relationships. In relation to the construction industry, parties may deal with each other over extended periods of time on one large project or on a series of projects, such that maintaining good relationships when disputes arise is important. Meditation can help to preserve those relationships.

How do you expect the changes as a result of Ontario’s new Construction Act to affect your practice?

The new Construction Act will have quite a significant impact on the practice of construction law in this province. The modernisation provisions will help to make the process of dealing with lien proceedings more efficient. In relation to the prompt-payment provisions, lawyers will need to play a strong role in ensuring that clients comply with prompt-payment provisions and have internal procedures that allow them to pay within the time frames set out in the Act. For construction lawyers, one of the most significant changes in the Act is the introduction of adjudication, which is new in Ontario. So for construction lawyers, this will have a very important impact on their practice in that they will have to adapt to dealing with disputes very swiftly, as has occurred in the UK over the past 20 years.

How is increasing specialism in construction law impacting the legal market?

Increasing specialism is causing a reduction in generalist practices. We see firms adopting different strategies, in relation to their construction practices. There is a focus on meeting client needs – lawyers provide a range of services to the industry. If a client requires front-end help, lawyers help them with contract drafting requirements; if a client needs project-shadowing services for a project, lawyers provide that service. If significant problems arise in the form of claims or disputes, the right specialised members of the legal team are brought in to assist with those disputes. The important thing with a specialism is that you also have available to clients the right ancillary expertise in areas such as immigration and workplace, health and safety, so you can provide a full-service offering to construction-industry clients.

What advice would you give to younger practitioners hoping to be in your position one day?

Do what you enjoy. Be open to investigating what areas in the practice of law interest you, then pursue those areas. Find good mentors and champions and learn from them.

Global Leader

Construction 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Sharon Vogel wins acclaim from sources for her “strong commercial sense and excellent grasp of key issues”. Her practice focuses construction disputes relating to large infrastructure projects, where she acts as a mediator and litigator, as well as counsel in arbitration proceedings.

Biography

Sharon Vogel has been recognised for her success at settling disputes relating to large-scale infrastructure, industrial and commercial projects, as well as for her skills in drafting contracts on behalf of owners, developers, general contractors, subcontractors and suppliers. Among the many professional acknowledgements she has recently received, she was recognised as one of the 25 most influential lawyers in Canada by Canadian Lawyer, Who’s Who Legal rates her one of the top five construction lawyers in the country and Benchmark Litigation has named her one of the top 25 women in litigation.

Sharon is a partner at Singleton Urquhart Reynolds Vogel LLP and co-chairs the firm’s construction and infrastructure practice group. Her expertise includes negotiation, mediation, arbitration and litigation of construction disputes, including construction liens, breach of contract, delays, surety bonds, construction insurance, and architects’ and engineers’ errors and omissions.

Sharon has served as counsel to numerous municipalities and government agencies to successfully manage expensive delays and other legal issues on high-profile transportation and other infrastructure projects.

Together with her colleague Bruce Reynolds, she has played an important role in helping the Ontario government modernise the province’s construction law, which saw the first round of amendments come into effect in 2018. The pair reviewed the previous Construction Lien Act for the Ministry of the Attorney General, a process that involved consulting with more than 60 provincial stakeholders and submitted a report with 101 recommendations – 98 of which were eventually included in the new legislation, the Construction Act. Among the changes to the legislation are the creation of a prompt payment framework and the introduction of a mandatory dispute resolution system.

Sharon was also retained as co-counsel by the federal government to assist in the introduction of new legislation on prompt payment and adjudication. She held discussions with industry stakeholders in ten provinces and one territory and, in 2018, submitted the independent expert report Building a Federal Framework for Prompt Payment and Adjudication.

Over the course of her career, managing complex construction cases involving multiple parties, she has appeared at all levels of court, including the Ontario Superior Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. She is a prolific writer and avid speaker on a variety of legal subjects, ranging from dispute resolution and adjudication, to professional ethics and legislative reform.

Outside of the firm, Sharon serves as a board member of Habitat for Humanity in the Greater Toronto Area and is a former board member of Youth Challenge International. She has been both a rider and fundraiser for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada’s Ride for Heart.

National Leader

Canada - Construction 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Sharon Vogel is a long-standing figure in the market whose deep expertise in construction disputes distinguish her as a go-to player for a wide range of contentious matters.

Biography

Sharon Vogel has been recognised for her success at settling disputes relating to large-scale infrastructure, industrial and commercial projects, as well as for her skills in drafting contracts on behalf of owners, developers, general contractors, subcontractors and suppliers. Among the many professional acknowledgements she has recently received, she was recognised as one of the 25 most influential lawyers in Canada by Canadian LawyerWho’s Who Legal rates her one of the top three construction lawyers in the country and Benchmark Litigation has named her one of the top 25 women in litigation.

Sharon is a partner at Singleton Urquhart Reynolds Vogel LLP and co-chairs the firm’s construction and infrastructure practice group. Her expertise includes negotiation, mediation, arbitration and litigation of construction disputes, including construction liens, breach of contract, delays, surety bonds, construction insurance, and architects’ and engineers’ errors and omissions.

Sharon has served as counsel to both owners and design-builders to successfully manage large delay claims, and other legal issues on high-profile transportation and other infrastructure projects.

She is a senior fellow at the University of Melbourne, teaching the international construction law master's course.

Together with her colleague Bruce Reynolds, she has played an important role in helping the Ontario government modernise the province’s construction law, which saw the first round of amendments recently come into effect. The pair reviewed the previous Construction Lien Act for the Ministry of the Attorney General, a process that involved consulting with more than 60 provincial stakeholders, and submitted a report with 101 recommendations – 98 of which were eventually included in the new legislation, the Construction Act. Among the changes to the legislation are the creation of a prompt payment framework and the introduction of a mandatory dispute resolution system.

Sharon was also retained as co-counsel by the federal government to assist in the introduction of new legislation on prompt payment and adjudication. She held discussions with industry stakeholders in ten provinces and one territory, and, last year, submitted the independent expert report “Building a Federal Framework for Prompt Payment and Adjudication.”

Over the course of her career, managing complex construction cases involving multiple parties, she has appeared at all levels of court, including the Ontario Superior Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. She is a prolific writer and avid speaker on a variety of legal subjects, ranging from dispute resolution and adjudication, to professional ethics and legislative reform.

Outside of the firm, Sharon serves as a board member of Habitat for Humanity in the Greater Toronto Area and is a former board member of Youth Challenge International. She has been both a rider and fundraiser for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada’s Ride for Heart.

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