2018 Schnabel Engineering Lecture: Where Engineering Meets The Law (Or How Engineers Help Put My Kids Through College)

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Virginia Tech. University Libraries

Engineers face a daily concern: “What if something goes wrong?” This is an inevitable fact about our engineering and construction profession. Things will go wrong and when they do, Attorneys become our allies and our nemesis. Problems arise and somewhere in your career, you will face the unenviable challenge of trying to explain what happened and trying to figure out how to mitigate the pain. Mr. Vella has seen many of our foibles and will share some insights about the state of our practice, the law, and through examples, some lessons we can learn from to help mitigate future challenges. Join us as Mr. Vella explores legal questions of risk allocation and, in particular, how challenges of design-build construction processes require us to think a little differently.

For over 30 years, Mr. Vella has focused his practice on heavy and commercial construction matters. From contract formation and interpretation issues to the resolution of disputes through litigation, arbitration, and mediation, he has represented contractors, engineers, and owners through all phases of the construction process, on projects across the United States and overseas. Issues in dispute on those projects have included defective specifications, differing site conditions; acceleration, delay, and inefficiency claims; and payment and performance bonds. Mr. Vella has written numerous articles and book chapters and is a frequent speaker on construction-related topics. In addition to his law practice, he is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Virginia School of Law and serves on the Architecture Technology Curriculum Advisory Committee for Northern Virginia Community College.

Mr. Vella is a member of the bar of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the District of Columbia. He served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Construction Law Section of the Virginia State Bar, and is an active member of the Associated General Contractors of America, the Associated Builders and Contractors, and The MOLES. We are honored that Mr. Vella joins our past 12 lecturers here at Virginia Tech.