Ross Altman concentrates his practice on matters pertaining to design, engineering, procurement, and construction. He represents owners, contractors, design professionals, lenders, and others in matters ranging from the drafting and negotiation of contracts to the resolution of disputes and claims.
Ross often represents clients involved in large, complex projects, such as those in the industrial, transportation, energy, and modular industries as well as in a range of infrastructure developments. He has worked on projects throughout North America, as well as South America, Europe, and Asia. As a result of his experience, clients’ complicated and unusual projects are likely similar to ventures Ross has handled previously.
Ross regularly counsels clients in matters that often occur on projects as the result of a disparity between one party’s expectations and another party’s intentions. He understands that the risk of such problems can be reduced and often managed through deal structure, the contracting process, and project management. As a result, clients consistently seek his advice on transactions structure and other front-end matters, in particular for projects using novel or unconventional project delivery methodologies.
Such representation continues throughout the administration of construction and project completion. Ross has represented both public sector and private entities engaged in public-private partnership (P3) projects and has drafted special legislation to facilitate such projects. He periodically serves as an arbitrator for construction industry disputes.
Earlier in his career, Ross left private practice for a few years to serve as general counsel for two global companies. Those were not typical in-house positions, as Ross was part of turnaround teams put in place to help the companies reorganize under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, which also involved resolving significant international insolvency matters. One of those companies was an international equipment manufacturer and EPC contractor. In his capacity as general counsel, Ross provided the legal guidance needed to complete several large overseas projects and to resolve numerous and substantial disputes, one of which involved negotiating a settlement agreement following nearly a month of arbitration hearings in Singapore.
Ross is also an adjunct professor at the University of Miami School of Law (in the Real Property Development LL.M. program), where he has taught Drafting and Negotiating Design Agreements and Construction Contracts for over 20 years. He also teaches Emerging Commercial Trends and Legal Issues in Construction Projects, an interdisciplinary course offered jointly by the School of Law and School of Architecture (in the Master of Real Estate Development + Urbanism Program).
In addition to his formal teaching, Ross has delivered many guest lectures at law schools, business schools, and engineering and construction management programs. He frequently writes and lectures on topics concerning the design professions, construction industry, and project finance, and served as a contributing editor to The Real Estate Finance Journal. Ross is also a co-editor and multiple chapter author of a widely used construction law textbook, creatively titled Construction Law, now in its second edition.
Ross and his wife, Barbara, reside in Evanston, IL, and have an over-achieving daughter who is studying architecture and art history at the University of Michigan.
Awards and Honors
- Ranked by Chambers USA as America’s Leading Lawyer for Business
- Recognized as a Leading Lawyer in Construction and Real Estate by Leading Lawyers (2020 – present)
- Awarded Top Ten recognition in Illinois for Construction and Top 100 for Real Estate Related
- Designated as Illinois Super Lawyer (2005 – present)
- Recognized by Best Lawyers® in Construction Law
- Named Construction Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers® (2011)
- Recommended in Legal 500
- Included in Who’s Who Legal’s International Who’s Who of Construction Lawyers
- American College of Construction Lawyers
- Fellow, Member of Board of Governors (2014 –2017)
- Chair, Documents Committee (2017 – 2019)
- American Arbitration Association Panel of Arbitrators for Construction Industry Disputes
- American Bar Association
- Forum Committee on Construction Industry
- Former Member, Steering Committee for Division12, Owners and Lenders
- International Bar Association, Former Member
- International Construction Projects Committee
- Society of Illinois Construction Attorneys, Founding Member
Representative construction projects by ENR sector include:
- General building, including notable high-rise projects in Chicago and New York, destination entertainment and leisure facilities.
- Manufacturing plants.
- Power projects, including waste-to-energy, co-generation plants, and renewable energy.
- Industrial process facilities, such as pulp and paper mills, steel mills, pharmaceutical plants, food and other processing facilities.
- Petroleum facilities.
- Transportation, including roads and highways, dredging and marine facilities, bridges, light rail, and intermodal facilities, among others.
- Hazardous waste projects.
- Telecommunications projects, data centers, and information technology facilities.
- Dams, process water treatment facilities, and other water related projects.
- Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust, Former Board Member
- Southeast Evanston Association, Former Board Member
- The Chicago Architecture Center, Former Docent
Recent publications include:
- Co-Author, “Ingredients of a Successful P3 Project,” Journal of the American College of Construction Lawyers (2022)
- Co-Author, “Public-Private Partnerships,” Construction Law: Transactional Considerations, IICLE Chapter 5 (2021)
- Co-Author, “Design Professional’s Liability to the Contractor,” Architect and Engineer Liability: Claims Against Design Professionals, Wolter Kluwer Publishing Chapter 6, Fifth Edition (2020)
- Author, “Participants in the Design and Construction Process,” Chapter 2; and “Project Delivery Systems,” Chapter 4, Second Edition (2019)
- Construction Law, ABA Publishing
- Co-Editor, Construction Law, ABA Publishing (2019)
- Author, “Public-Private Partnerships in Construction,” Construction Law: Transactional Considerations, Chapter 5 (August 2017)
- “Changes In Transportation Are Poised To Transform Commercial Real Estate,” Commercial Investment Real Estate (July 24, 2017)
- “The Project Delivery Evolution,” Construction Today Magazine (May 17, 2017)
- Co-Author, “One Sided Contracts: Do They Pay Off?” Contracting Excellence (March 6, 2017)
- Co-Author, “One-Sided Contracts: Do They Pay Off?” Journal of the American College of Construction Lawyers (Winter 2017)
- “Design Professional’s Liability to the Contractor,” Architect and Engineer Liability: Claims against Design Professionals, at 115, Kevin R. Sido, ed., Aspen Publishers 3d ed. (2006)
Recent presentations include:
- Plenary Panel Moderator and Speaker, “One-Sided Contracts: Adverse and Unlimited Consequences,” American College of Construction Lawyers – 30th Annual Meeting, St. Petersburg, Florida (February 23, 2019)
- Keynote Panel Moderator, “Complex Projects – Challenges, Opportunities & Lessons Learned,” IAACM Americas Conference, Toronto, Canada (October 11, 2017)
- “One Sided Contracts: Do They Pay-Off,” American College of Construction Lawyers Annual Conference, Laguna Beach, California (February 20, 2016)
- “Performance Contracting and Related Issues in Plant Construction Contracts,” Society of Illinois Construction Attorneys, Chicago, Illinois (October 20, 2015)
- “The History of P3 Projects, ISBA Law Ed,” Introduction to Public Private Partnerships (P3s) (May 1, 2015)
- “Delivery of Construction Projects Through P3s,” The Illinois CPA Society Construction Industry Conference, Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois (October 30, 2014)
- “Termination for Convenience: Limitations for the Private Sector and Drafting Considerations,” American College of Construction Lawyers – 25th Annual Conference, Scottsdale, Arizona (February 21, 2014)
- “The Players in Construction; Anatomy of a Construction Project; Project Delivery Systems,” ABA Forum on the Construction Industry – The Fundamentals of Construction Law, Chicago, Illinois (November 8, 2013)
- “How to Select a Project Delivery Method,” CLE Institute State Bar of Montana, 9th Annual Construction Law Institute, Bozeman, Montana (October 18, 2013)
- “The Project from Hell: Construction Turnarounds and Workouts,” International Bar Association, Annual Conference, Dublin, Ireland (October 2, 2012)
- “Public-Private Partnerships, Land Use Institute: Planning, Regulation, Litigation, Eminent Domain, and Compensation,” Chicago, IL (August 10, 2012)
- “Project Delivery Systems, Construction Law and Mechanics Liens Subcommittee of the Real Property Law Committee,” Chicago Bar Association (May 7, 2012)
- “Transactional Considerations, Does the Project Delivery System Really Matter,” American Bar Association Forum on the Construction Industry, 2012 Annual Meeting, Las Vegas, NV (April 26, 2012)
Bar and Court Admissions
- Illinois, 1982
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, 1982