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Part II - Will BIM Work as a Deliverable? A Legal Perspective on BIM

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Part II - Will BIM Work as a Deliverable? A Legal Perspective on BIM


Sasha Reed | August 20, 2015

BIMForum recently held a conference in San Diego with the theme BIM – Transforming Deliverables. I sat down with a few of the presenters to get their thoughts on this topic and to bring some of these conversations to you. For my second sit-down interview, I spoke to Lindsey Pflugrath with the law firm Skellenger Bender. Pflugrath was a part of the panel, “BIM Won’t Work as a Deliverable, Will It?” She represented the legal perspective in this conversation, which involved an architect, contractor and software provider.

Looking at BIM as a deliverable with right of reliance, Pflugrath offers insight on what to focus on when selecting legal counsel to advise a highly collaborative project team. She states there are certain risk- management provisions that need to be omitted and/or heavily modified, especially with multi-party agreements. Approaching these contract negotiations with a traditional mentality can create a bottle neck during the contract negotiation phase.

This is an impeding reality most collaborative project teams are well aware of. Today’s contracts are written to accommodate the existing culture, to minimize risk for each participating party through silos of limited liability. However, it’s this structure that is being pulled apart at the seams by innovative project teams. Unsatisfied with the status quo, firms are now differentiating themselves by unraveling the binding contractual structure through skilled counsel, working to support the teams trying to color outside the lines. It’s not until each party begins to see proven value from the transparency of shared information that we’ll truly see BIM workflows take hold.

In the meantime, having the right counsel on your team can be the difference between long drawn-out negotiations and breaking new ground to meet the owner’s needs. Pflugrath believes that the legal industry needs to adapt in order to provide the best counsel to their clients. Projects are not getting easier—rather, complexity is the new norm. Timelines cannot be met with the existing contractual structure in place. Highly collaborative workflows are essential to project success, and in such a case, a lawyer should consider themselves advocates for their clients. Balancing that with an understanding of the risks presented by the project—managing them in such a way that it allows cohesiveness on the team—is where true success is realized.

I’d like to thank each of the speakers who sat down with me and shared their ideas and perspectives. And a special thank you to the organizers of BIMForum for allowing me conduct these interviews and share the full conference sessions with you. 

For more insights or to hear the full interview, watch the embedded video. If you’d like to see this session in its entirety, click here to watch it on BIMForum’s YouTube Channel.

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