Daniel A. Dorfman
Daniel A. Dorfman is a capital partner and Chair of the Firm’s Chambers-ranked Construction Law Group. Daniel has been named among the leading construction law attorneys in Illinois by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business. Daniel represents local Chicago-based and nationally prominent owners/developers and some of the largest and most well-known design and construction professionals in the country on their most important projects – both on the front end in drafting and negotiating complex agreements and on the back end litigating and trying to verdict (when necessary) all types of commercial construction disputes.
Daniel also serves as Acting General Counsel for construction industry clients including an international hotel brand, a luxury residential “lease-up” brokerage, a large century-old iron mill, developers and premier specialty contractors. In addition to being an accomplished construction lawyer, Daniel has a related Policyholder/Insurance Coverage practice representing insureds in securing millions of dollars of coverage, both within and outside of the construction industry, in insurance coverage disputes.
Daniel is a frequent presenter, author and academic lecturer on construction law topics. He currently serves on Construction Law360’s Editorial Advisory Board and is an active member of the Chicagoland Associated General Contractors (AGC), DRI’s Fidelity and Surety Committee, and the Sustainability Commission of the Village of Deerfield, Illinois.
Over the past decade Daniel has led and handled multifaceted construction law matters nationwide totaling over $1 billion in project value and including some of the most recognizable projects in the country. Daniel is known by clients and construction industry participants as the go-to for:
Transactions and Contracts: Daniel regularly drafts and negotiates design and construction agreements in the hospitality, commercial, industrial, and retail spaces, often developing tailor-made agreements to cover multiple projects to help reduce significant risks in the construction process. Daniel also represents clients in connection with construction loan financing matters.
Litigation: Daniel represents international hospitality brands, national owners of apartment communities, national general contractors, and some of the most well-respected design firms in the country in highly complex, multimillion-dollar construction disputes with claims, including design and construction defects, project delays, mechanics liens, and payment disputes.
Policyholder Insurance Coverage: Daniel represents insureds in securing millions of dollars of coverage on a wide range of policies, including commercial general liability, errors and omissions / professional liability, directors and officers, project specific and manuscript, first-party, and nonprofit liability.
Sustainable & Renewable Industries Practice: Daniel, a LEED® Green Associate, also represents clients who construct “green” buildings, as well as clients who build renewable projects, such as wind farms and solar energy systems.
Through his combined expertise in contracts, litigation, insurance coverage, and sustainability, Daniel has gained a reputation as the go-to expert among construction industry participants and professionals including owners, developers, general contractors, architects, engineers, specialty trades, and construction suppliers for all aspects of construction law, including:
As an accomplished trial lawyer, Daniel has tried to verdict many cases in state and federal courts nationwide. But Daniel’s focus on reaching the best resolution for his clients also means attaining favorable outcomes without the time and expense of trial. Daniel assists his clients with risk management strategies to help prevent disputes before they happen and advises on appropriate strategies and mechanisms to resolve disputes. Daniel’s construction litigation engagements include:
- Represented and successfully defended developer in a building envelope construction defect case brought by condominium association involving a ground-up 40-unit new construction condominium.
- Represented one of the largest owners and operators of quality apartment communities in the U.S. in obtaining a multimillion-dollar settlement in a construction defects case against contractors and subcontractors arising from tile and flooring claims involving a multifamily property in California. The favorable outcome allowed the client to save the project, keep the property in its portfolio and retain its value.
- Represented one of the largest general contractors in the Midwest in obtaining a favorable settlement arising out of coverage denial related to the construction of an upscale shopping mall.
- Represented a design professional in obtaining a favorable settlement in a dispute arising out of defect claims to a historic and architecturally significant property located in the heart of Chicago. Importantly, the outcome also maintained the architect-client’s reputation in the industry.
- Represented client/owner in obtaining voluntary dismissal of plaintiff-contractor in a significant construction dispute involving office commercial property after filing client’s dispositive motion and before court ruled on motion.
- Represented owner and successfully obtained a defense verdict in arbitration on behalf of owner in substantial mechanics lien claim on an office renovation project.
- Represented a leading Southeastern Wisconsin specialty electrical contractor in prosecuting a multimillion-dollar mechanics lien claim against owner and successfully defended client against defect claims.
- Represented a Chicago landmark hotel in obtaining a multimillion-dollar settlement on the eve of trial in a construction defects case against general contractor and design professional arising from renovation of guest rooms and related mechanical claims. The timely settlement permitted the client to complete the renovation, retaining the value of its investment.
- Represented owner in successful 3-week jury trial against general contractor for failing to correct structural defects on apartment buildings.
Construction Transactions and Contracts
Daniel’s practice complements the Firm’s highly regarded Real Estate practice by adding his transactional experience across the gamut of construction agreements, including general contractor agreements, design agreements, engineering agreements, prime subcontractor agreements, master service agreements, FF&E agreements, project management agreements, and consulting agreements, on behalf of:
- A global hospitality management and real estate group for the first modular built hotel in the U.S., located in California. (Construction management, construction, design)
- A healthy foods vendor in a multifloor commercial office space build-out in Chicago’s culinary incubator housed within a Chicago historic 1920’s building. (Design and construction)
- A leading restaurateur for a Tribeca (NY) build-out of new outpost for his renowned diner serving one of America’s most critically acclaimed burgers. (Design, consulting, construction)
- A national boutique real estate development company/owner for construction of a multimillion-dollar mixed-use retail/commercial/apartments project in Illinois. (Construction)
- A boutique hotel renovation and construction firm specializing in upper mid-scale to luxury spaces, acting as general contractor, for multiple major branded hotel renovation projects nationwide. (Owner-contractor, subcontract forms)
- A Chicago-based real estate investment company/owner for multimillion-dollar redevelopment of Arizona five-star hotel, and also ensuring timely delivery of design drawings. (Multiple construction, design agreements)
- A design/builder for renovation of flagship hotels throughout the U.S., including creating forms for design/builders to utilize on their future mixed-use and hotel renovation projects. (Construction, design)
- One of the nation’s premier specialty electrical contractors for construction of cloud storage data center facilities in Virginia. (Electrical design/build)
- The owner and operator of the largest underground parking system in the U.S. for construction of new parking garages and upgrades. (EPC, infrastructure)
- A developer of investment properties across Northern Illinois
- A real estate investment group/owner for project management of cold storage (food temperature) facility in Florida. (Project management services)
- A New York-based real estate finance and investment management firm for development of new Missouri entertainment, office, and residential facility. (Construction manager (not at risk), design, construction, consulting)
Insurance Coverage Disputes
Daniel represents insureds and has resolved insurance coverage disputes involving commercial general liability, errors and omissions, D&O, professional liability, project specific and manuscript, first party, association and nonprofit liability policies on behalf of:
- A policyholder in successfully obtaining reimbursement of legal fees against insurer who declined coverage and filed declaratory judgment of no coverage in underlying dispute involving construction of a new retail shopping mall in Chicago.
- A general contractor in obtaining summary judgment dismissal against insurer in subrogation action involving alleged construction defects on core and shell of 10-story retail property.
- Client in obtaining declaratory judgment ruling against insurer on the issue of duty to defend in underlying action involving construction of the largest airport runway in the U.S.
- Owners of new construction townhome community in obtaining a favorable settlement in an underlying construction dispute in which insurers refused to provide coverage.
- A client-insured in a first-party coverage dispute where insurer denied indemnity obligation based on alleged exclusionary language in policy.
Selected to the Society of Illinois Construction Attorneys, a selective membership based on peer nominations, of outstanding Illinois lawyers who are distinguished for their skill, experience and professional conduct in the practice of construction law.
Recognized by the prestigious Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, one of the most highly regarded annual rankings of law firms and attorneys worldwide, as a leading attorney in Illinois.
AV® Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings — only 10 percent of all attorneys are rated AV® Preeminent by their peers for the highest level of professional excellence for legal knowledge, communication skills and ethical standards.
Selected as a Fellow in the Construction Lawyers Society of America, an invitation-only, selective and limited membership national association of the country’s best construction lawyers.
The Best Lawyers in America© — selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© since 2019 for Construction Law.
USGBC-accredited LEED Green Associate since 2013.
Illinois Rising Stars recognized from 2013-2019 and Illinois Super Lawyer recognized since 2020 based on peer nominations and evaluations with third party research.
Emerging Lawyer in Construction Law — selected by The Law Bulletin Publishing Company. Less than 2% of all lawyers licensed to practice law in Illinois receive recognition as an Emerging Lawyer.
Selected as the feature construction attorney for Illinois of 2020 and 2021 in The Construction Lawyers publication, a top guide highlighting the most recommended construction attorneys in each state.
- “Associated General Contractors of America/American Bar Association’s Forum on the Construction Industry State Law Matrix,” Regional Contributing Editor (July 2021)
- “Strategically Navigating the Commercial Real Estate Tax Appeal Process During Construction Defect Litigation” Under Construction, a publication of the American Bar Association, Vol. 22, No. 3, Spring 2021
- “Negotiate and Draft – “Pass-Through” Clauses You Can Live With” – TileLetter, the official publication of the National Tile Contractors Association, Inc. (NCTA) (December 2019)
- “New Protection for Illinois Contractors – The Buck Stops at Contractual Privity” – TileLetter, the official publication of the National Tile Contractors Association, Inc. (NCTA) (May 2019)
- “Bonds and the Construction Process” – TileLetter, the official publication of the National Tile Contractors Association, Inc. (NTCA) (December 2018)
- “Illinois Retainage Reform Bill Defeated – Senate Bill 3052 Would Have Mandated 5% Retainage Limit in Private Construction Contracts” – Building Chicagoland, the annual magazine of the Chicagoland Associated General Contractors (AGC) (Fall 2018)
- “Green Risks and Rewards: Managing Legal Issues on Sustainable Projects” – TileLetter, the official publication of the National Tile Contractors Association, Inc. (NTCA) (September 2018)
- “Are P3s Truly a Better Project Delivery Method to Fix our Ailing Infrastructure? The Trump Administration May Think So” – Under Construction, ABA Forum on Construction Law, Vol. 19, No. 1 (Summer 2017)
- “Using Magic Words: Understanding Pay-If-Paid vs. Paid-When-Paid Clauses in Construction Agreements” – Builders Blueprint, a publication of the Builders Association and the Associated General Contractors of America (April 11, 2017)
- “Titles and Liability: The Latest on Illinois Mechanics Lien Act” – Building Chicago Magazine (December 2015)
- Removing Cloud of Title, But Adding Cloud of Additional Liability (August 20, 2015)
- Chapter 1: “What is Green Building 101,” Green Building and the Construction Lawyer — ABA (October 2014)
- “What’s Your Status?” – ABA, Insurance Coverage Litigation (July 2011)
- “Managing Engineering Liability and Risk,” HalfMoon Education, Inc., webinar presenter, October 26, 2022
- “Delegated Design,” Society of Illinois Construction Attorneys, webinar presenter, April 19, 2022
- “Teaming with Each Other,” Illinois Road & Transportation Builders Association – Planning & Design Annual Conference, panelist, August 17, 2021
- “Building Virtual Bridges: Remote Mediation of a Construction Dispute,” Illinois State Bar Association, webinar panelist, March 3, 2021
- “Procurement and the City of Chicago,” Chicagoland Associated General Contractors, webinar presenter, June 25, 2020
- “Legal Considerations for the Architect Before, During and After the Project,” American Institute of Architects-Chicago presentation, November 29, 2018
- “Managing Construction Risks: Or How to Avoid Paying Your Lawyers,” Coverings 2018 presentation, the largest international tile and stone show in North America
- Construction Law Seminar, Chicago-Kent College of Law, lectures, 2010 – 2017
- “Legal Issues in Real Estate,” Northwestern School of Law, guest lecturer on construction law, 2010 to present
- University of Illinois, Graduate School of Architecture, guest lecturer, 2012 to 2017
- Illinois Institute of Technology, School of Architecture, guest lecturer on construction law, 2010 to 2016
- “Green Risks and Rewards,” Building Chicago/Greening the Heartland Expo presentation, September 30, 2014
- “Legal Issues in Construction Contracts,” SAIC, Department of Architecture presentation, March 19, 2013
- “Building Information Modeling: Collaboration or Liability?” American Institute of Architects-Chicago presentation, October 18, 2012
Daniel has taught construction law classes at The Northwestern University School of Law, The University of Illinois, Chicago-Kent College of Law, and at the American Institute of Architects, covering topics such as:
- Legal Perspectives on Construction Contracts
- Building Information Modeling: Collaboration or Liability?
- Performance and Payment Bonds Overview
- Legal Aspects of Architecture and Engineering
- Time is Money: Understanding and Documenting Delay Claims
- Green Peril and Promise: Risk Management for Green Construction Projects
- Legal Risks of Interior Design and Building
- Understanding Mechanics Liens
- Managing Construction Risks: An Owner’s Perspective
- Using the AIA Documents: Owner-Contractor Agreements and Sustainable Design and Construction
- Understanding the General Conditions of a Construction Contract
- Using AIA Tools to Manage Legal Issues on Sustainable Projects
- Member, Chicago Committee on High Rise Buildings (CCHRB), a not-for-profit organization founded to support research and disseminate information for economic design, construction, operation and rehabilitation of high-rise buildings.
- Member, Trial Law Institute, a highly diverse, invitation-only membership whose primary purpose is to perpetuate, elevate and preserve the art of trial presentation and techniques, and to advance and educate on new technologies designed to enhance the admission of evidence in courtroom settings.
- Member, Diversity Law Institute, an international association of lawyers and law firms committed to diversity in all aspects of the legal profession and justice systems of the United States and Canada.
- Member of the American Bar Association’s Forum on Construction Law (with leadership role for the 2021 Chicago Regional Meeting, September 30-October 1, 2021).
- Member of the Illinois Construction Industry Committee (ICIC), a major advocacy group for the union construction industry in Illinois.
- Member of The Society of Construction Law, one of the most prominent construction law societies in both the United States and Canada.