As I blogged on Wednesday, I am speaking at two state construction law conferences in other jurisdictions this week: Texas and North Carolina.  Three different people asked me why I would speak to other lawyer groups who practice in other states.  Good question!

Here are a few reasons for stepping up to the mic in other states:

  1. To meet people.  Business development is about getting out and talking to others and I genuinely like meeting and talking to people. But it is more than that … as a lawyer, I may have a client that needs assistance in Texas or North Carolina.  This week, I ate, drank and was merry with a number of construction attorneys who I would not hesitate contacting to act a local counsel if needs arises.  
  2. To improve trial skills.  I cannot overlook the fact that every time I speak to a group (no matter the topic) I am practicing and improving upon one of the primary skills needed to be a successful litigator… public speaking.  Indeed, all of the skilled litigators I’ve met have been great public speakers, whether their audience was a judge, an arbitrator, a jury or even opposing counsel.
  3. To gain knowledge.  This week has presented me with an opportunity to learn about the various and new construction laws in other states. For example, at one conference I learned that in 2009 North Carolina passed its own False Claims Act, which dramatically affects public contracting in the state.  At the other conference, I learned that Texas has a residential construction liability statute that can substantially limit a contractor’s liability if they make a reasonable offer to cure the defects. The point here is … as a construction lawyer … I want to gain as much practical information I can about my industry, whether within my own jurisdiction or in others.

There’s a lesson to be learned here for construction executives and business developers:  The dynamics of the construction industry have rapidly changed to require a multi-state or national approach to business.  One of the hot topics at dinner last night (…other than the war stories of depositions gone wild …) was the increase of joint venture and teaming agreements to pursue work in states all across the country.  More and more you are seeing larger companies teaming with local companies to pursue the state or local work.  It will benefit your business if you get out of your comfort zone to start exploring opportunities in other areas.

Image: bionicteaching on Flickr