James L. Hawkins

Of Counsel



J.D., Saint Louis University School of Law, cum laude, 1955

B.S., Saint Louis University, 1951


James Hawkins has provided advice and services to commercial and industrial contractors, construction managers, owners, engineers, architects, and specialty sub-contractors for more than 40 years.

His extensive experience covers a range of construction issues, including drafting and entering into contracts, bid questions and disputes, problems during construction and resolution of disputes by negotiation, arbitration and litigation. James was active in the firm's management for a number of years, serving as president and as chairman of the board. He served for many years as chairman of the firm's construction practice group.

In recent years, when requested by the attorneys for the disputing parties, he has served as a mediator of complex construction disputes. James was a member of the American Bar Association serving on its Forum on the Construction Industry and Public Contract Law Committee and was a Fellow of the American College of Construction Lawyers.

Honors & Awards

Honors & Awards

  • The Best Lawyers in America, 1997-1998


Representative Matters

  • Sports Arena. Represented construction manager in disputes arising out of plan defects, acceleration, subcontractor default and other problems in a major multi-sport indoor arena.
  • Rail Tunnels. Represented the contractor engaged in enlarging two rail tunnels in the mountains of Pennsylvania with respect to claims arising out of misrepresented working conditions.
  • Power Plant Subcontractor Default. The Michigan power project was accelerated to maintain schedule in the face of a default by the mechanical subcontractor.
  • Residential Complex Defects. Acted as mediator at the request of all counsel of record in litigation seeking $2.2 million for construction defects to a suburban housing complex. The residents association, the developer, the masonry contractor, the architect and the sheet metal contractor were represented by their insurance and personal attorneys. After four mediation sessions the case, pending for two years and on a current trial docket, was settled.
  • Refrigerated Distribution Facility. Represented the design build contractor in multi faceted dispute involving environmental, late performance, acceleration and late payment issues in the design/construction of a large, automated East Coast facility.
  • Hotel Completion. Represented the owner in connection with claims and mechanic's liens filed against $44 million hotel project.
  • Bridge deck Renovation. Pursued claim on behalf of contractor against the highway department in a state that does not permit normal court action for breach of contract. Claim involved extra work and extensions of time caused by defective specifications and overly rigid contract interpretation.
  • Bid Protest. Defense in the U.S. Claims Court of bid protest on $120 million lock and dam project on the Mississippi River.
  • Oil Refinery Lien. Prosecution on behalf of a mechanical contractor and its subcontractors of a mechanic's lien for $1,136,000 plus interest on an Illinois oil refinery after the owner filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
  • Slope Failure at Federal Records Center. Advised contractor as to contract entitlement during negotiations on differing site conditions claim. Engaged and consulted with geotechnical engineer as to test results, specification representations and methods of claim presentation.
  • Design Build, Fast Track Computer Center. Commenced and completed an arbitration to recover the amount due a design build contractor engaged to turn a California department store into a huge computer center for a major retail chain. Issues: wrongful termination by owner, non payment by owner when due, counterclaims of defective design (including seismic upgrading to meet latest code requirements), defective and untimely construction.
  • Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (Loop) Brine Reservoir. Provided advice to design engineer/construction manager concerning bid specifications for large brine storage reservoir and related facilities necessary to the functioning of the strategic oil reserve facility in Louisiana. The reservoir is 220 acres in size, 22 feet deep, built from excavated soil/sand and roller compacted. It has soil cement slopes designed to withstand 6 foot hurricane driven waves. A slurry wall system is installed to preclude leakage. The reservoir is necessary to the functioning of the 25 million barrel oil reserve. Brine must be pumped into the caverns to keep the oil at the level of the extraction system during withdrawal.
  • Chemical Process Plant. A large mechanical contractor bid a lump sum to construct a certain process system in a chemical plant. The owner was a valuable repeat business client. The bid was based on a take off from the owner's model. No plans had been prepared. owner was to timely supply all materials. After a large overrun due principally to owner failures, negotiated a settlement of $425,000 in a manner that has permitted the parties to retain cordial relations. The contractor continues on the owner's bidding list.
  • Sewage Treatment Plant Default. A major ($14+million) design build subcontractor defaulted in performance due to the bankruptcy of its corporate parent. Representation of the prime contractor entailed negotiations with the surety as to a proper replacement contractor, and preparing and negotiating a three party bonded agreement respecting the takeover.
  • Power Plant Precipitator/Scrubber. The prime contractor filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy during performance. Representation of the fabrication/erection subcontractor required the filing of an action on the prime bond in U.S. District Court, Covington, Kentucky. The claims of the owner and all other contractors and vendors against the $14 million dollar bond were interpleaded by the surety in this same action.
  • Yatesville Dam (KY). Provided advice to the designing geotechnical engineer concerning provisions to be inserted in the bid documents for the dewatering system being designed for the Huntington District of the Corps of Engineers.
  • ICC Arbitration in Switzerland. Representation of the U.S. partner in a joint venture with a German firm to construct a hospital in Saudi Arabia for the Royal Saudi Air Force. A dispute thereafter arose between the joint venturers as to proper charges by each to the project. This dispute was presented to three Swiss arbitrators in Zurich.
  • U.S. Iranian Claims Tribunal in Netherlands. Representation of a U.S. geotechnical engineering company attempting to establish that an Iranian "shell" corporation was the alter ego of the Iranian Atomic Energy Commission in order to recover $560,000 in costs expended to perform geotechnical work relating to the location of nuclear plants in Iran.