The Construction Lawyers Society of America is an invitation-only construction lawyer honorary society with membership limited to 1,200 practicing Fellows from the United States and internationally. The composition of the CLSA is aggressively diverse, with recognition of excellence across all practices relating to construction law, including all transactional and litigation aspects of construction, and more specifically contract preparation, contract negotiations, surety bonding, traditional litigation and arbitration, and any other facet of construction law applicable to commercial, residential and energy construction matters nationally and internationally. The purpose of the CLSA is to recognize deserving, experienced, and highly qualified lawyers, to provide an outlet for scholarly authorship of legal articles on construction practice, to provide additional sources for professional development, to promote superior advocacy and ethical standards in the practice of law, to assist in community involvement by its membership, and to advance a superior judiciary, and body of distinguished neutrals, by taking relevant positions on issues or legislation affecting judicial compensation and/or benefits, as well as those affecting the American litigation processes.
Fellows are selected and invited into Fellowship after being evaluated for effectiveness and accomplishment in construction law, along with ethical reputation. The number of full Fellowships has been kept at an exclusive limit by design, allowing qualifications, diversity and inclusion to align effectively. Fellows are generally at the partner or shareholder level or are independent practitioners with ten or more years’ experience. The CLSA Fellowship also includes Judicial Fellows, Academic Fellows (law professors/legal scholars), In-House Counsel Fellows and Legislative Fellows, none of which are included in the 1,200 practicing Fellows limitation. Retired or semi-retired Fellows are given Fellow Emeritus status, with lifetime complimentary dues and continuing benefits of the society. Unless their practice changes from construction law or their general ethical reputation has been diminished, Fellows may hold their status as long as they desire to be affiliated with the CLSA. Fellows who hold such status for five consecutive years are designated Senior Fellows. Upon high recommendation by a Fellow, a limited number of Associate Fellows are selected, generally pending qualification for Fellowship. Associate Fellows may include partners or associates from the same firm in which nominating Fellows practice or with any other ethically reputable firm, governmental division or company.
The international aspect of the CLSA is designed to provide additional networking opportunities for CLSA Fellows whose existing or potential clientele engage in international business. The society has created its International Liaison Committee (ILC) for purposes of exploring opportunities for cross-promotion of construction law and assisting in the selection of preeminent international construction counsel to comprise the international element of the CLSA.
The CLSA also recognizes a limited number of accomplished lawyers for inclusion as Honorary Fellows. Practicing, retired or deceased lawyers, judges, elected officials and other distinguished jurists may be nominated by CLSA Fellows for such recognition. Honorary Fellows are recognized for career achievements, furthering professionalism and/or diversity in the practice of law, noted trial results, being an influence of regional or national significance in the area of construction law or any other body of work deemed worthy of high recognition.
The CLSA publishes the periodic online legal journal Construction Commentary & Review as an outlet for scholarly legal articles, essays, comments and case notes, as well as CLSA Fellow news and events. The subject matter of a Commentary submission may be any legal issue, past or present, providing it is not defamatory or inflammatory toward an individual or group, or is inconsistent or incompatible with the CLSA’s diversity policy. Publication of an article may be included in the biographies of members. To increase firm value, the CLSA acknowledges publication of articles and assists in news releases regarding same and responds to media inquiries.
The CLSA also cooperates with other construction organizations in arranging meetings and study groups for Fellows in furtherance of construction law excellence. Its membership and the authors of articles published in the Construction Commentary & Review represent widely divergent opinions and viewpoints, which the CLSA encourages for the purpose of expanding perspectives in all aspects of construction law, both within the honorary society and beyond.
The CLSA’s Advisory Board is composed of its membership President, the President-Elect, the Executive Director and General Counsel, and selected CLSA Fellows. An executive staff covers all needs of the membership, development, the Construction Commentary & Review, the CLSA Referral Network, meetings and conferences, and all other operating and general administration services. The CLSA also serves as a funding source and provides support for the Diversity Law Institute (DLI) and the Trial Law Institute (TLI). Since the CLSA has and will take meaningful positions and conduct lobbying activities with respect to legislation such as that affecting judicial compensation and benefits, judicial campaign financing and/or other legislation important to the American litigation processes, IRC Reg. Sec. 501(c)(3)-1(c)(3)(ii) precludes entitlement to tax-exempt status. Available funds are used to manage the CLSA and lend support to the DLI and TLI after taking into consideration all taxes, projected future capital and operating expenditures, and reasonable reserves to ensure the continued successful operation of the CLSA. CLSA Fellows become complimentary members of both the DLI and TLI upon acceptance of their CLSA invitation, with continuing membership throughout CLSA Fellowship.
The CLSA’s selection process is a combination of Fellow input, internal research, nominations by Fellows, attorney opinions, evaluation of client selection of counsel, limited input from active and retired judges, and reviews of acknowledgement and recognition by other peer reviewing sources and associations. The diversity sought by the CLSA relates to all demographics within law, including race, sex, age and national origin, which it believes will enrich the profession, as well as the scholarly exchange of ideas among its membership. The criteria used for selection is not based solely on the number of cases tried or arbitrated or the notoriety usually associated with frequent court appearances, but one’s effectiveness in the practice of construction law.
Through the Diversity Law Institute, the CLSA lends support to worthy causes and charities in furthering its mission. The CLSA actively works with its membership in promoting the law and society from many different approaches, sources and organizations. To help Fellows achieve personal goals in their charitable endeavors, the CLSA recognizes in the Commentary those members whose contributions to society, culture and the profession warrant grateful acknowledgement. This is also the basis and purpose for the CLSA Service Awards. No worthy cause is too small for recognition of a job well done. The CLSA provides information to media outlets for recognition. Such recognition of members’ accomplishments is deemed by the CLSA to be mutually beneficial.
The CLSA encourages and assists in recognition and publicity of Fellows selected for membership, as well as for publication authorships, positions held, and for accomplishments both in law and society as a whole. Press release formats and assistance are available to Fellows online and through the CLSA staff. Firm value is derived from Fellow recognition in the Construction Lawyers Society of America.