Construction Law Degree: (The Nitty Gritty)

Construction law degrees are a niche within the legal field that deals with large-scale projects like bridges, highways, and buildings. It’s an interesting alternative if you want to work in public service while still earning good money. 

Though, not all schools offer them, the curriculum for these programs includes contract law, property rights, tort law, negotiation skills, and more. 

Construction law degree programs are often found at schools of architecture, construction management, and engineering. 

Examples of these institutions include the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory for Music & Dance and Texas Tech University.

Salary For Construction Attorney

They may also serve as expert witnesses on behalf of their clients. The average salary for those working in this field can vary depending on location but falls between $60,000-120,000 annually. 

A construction law degree is a field of study that focuses on the legal aspects of the construction industry. This includes everything from contracts to safety regulations and more. 

Construction lawyers are not only knowledgeable in this specific area, but they also know other areas such as tax law and property law. 

Construction law degrees are designed to provide graduates with the necessary skills and knowledge to work within the construction industry.

Professionals in that industry are instrumental in accomplishing the complicated tasks related to real property development, planning, zoning, financing, contracting, and disputes in building a new project or renovating an existing one.

Construction attorneys play an important role in every phase of a construction project. They typically specialize by sector, such as commercial or residential. Some construction attorneys also focus on a specific area, such as design or contracts. 

(Construction law degrees are accredited by the American Bar Association often introduce additional study in a specialized area of interest, such as building codes and real estate law)

Although most construction attorneys have an undergraduate degree, it is not a prerequisite for admission to law school. Graduates from other disciplines, including business administration, can enter a bachelor’s degree for their J.D. programs. 

Depending on the composition of a law school or the legal community in a given area, the last two years of law school are usually spent in more specialized areas such as real estate law and litigation. 

Construction Attorneys

In some schools, students continue to add courses as adjunct professors after graduating. Construction attorneys who want to make a career change tend to pursue further education after law school, such as consulting construction firms, government agencies, or construction companies.

The degree varies depending on the state from which students graduated. Some states require specific minimum hours of education in subjects such as construction law, while others do not. 

Some offer three years of legal education rather than the traditional four years. Still, others provide courses in other environmental laws or handling disputes between contractors and clients.

Construction law schools focus on training professional construction attorneys who want to work in specific areas within the construction industry or who plan to work for a consulting company. 

Construction law degree facilities offer many different ways for students to obtain their degrees. The three-year Associate of Science (AS) degrees from top-ranked programs prepare students for entry-level jobs. Still, they often require that students start their careers by working in various aspects of the industry during their studies.

There are over 1,000 construction law degree programs in the United States, offering a wide range of educational alternatives.

A four-year B.A. in engineering, architecture, management, or construction is a prerequisite for admission to law school. Construction law degree programs typically require at least two years of study to complete.

While most top-ranked programs require a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, it is not required for admission. 

Instead, you can earn an Associate of Science Education from community colleges and preparatory colleges that do not offer a bachelor’s degree but do offer the courses needed for admission to an accredited university of your choosing.

Law schools require applicants to have undergraduate grades that are good enough for acceptance into their program and the solid personal qualities necessary to succeed in the legal profession. 

Admission to law school is competitive, so students may need to be in the top 10% of their class or have a high score on the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) or MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) or GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) .

Construction attorneys must pass the bar examination, which is given in the state where they plan to work. Attorneys who want to work on a construction project must also apply for admittance to the project through plans review. 

It may take about 4 months to receive approval. Some states have reciprocal agreements with other states that ensure that attorneys are admitted to practice at home under similar statutes and regulations.

Top-ranked schools may only offer these programs at their main campuses. In contrast, other schools field multiple locations throughout the country. 

Construction law degree schools are also commonly located at private universities and colleges. However, the number of top-ranked construction law programs is currently small compared to public institutions. The courses typically focus on contract drafting and dispute resolution. 

Additional topics include land use planning, contracts, and project management. Students will also learn about the construction industry and the different types of construction projects.

Construction attorneys are trained to understand and interpret various legal documents, such as building codes, loan documents, and real estate covenants. 

Construction law degree programs typically teach students how the different parts of a contract work together, evaluate agreements written in another country, and handle disputes between contractors, project owners, engineers, and litigation procedures and theory.

The top-ranked construction law degree programs operate in a wide variety of settings. These include public universities, private colleges, and liberal arts colleges. Private universities and liberal arts colleges may use a single location or offer several campuses throughout the country.

Construction Law Degrees: Where to Find Them 

The top-ranked schools offer bachelor’s degrees and associate’s degrees (AS) or some other type of educational program that prepares students for entry into law school. Some schools offer degree programs at locations close to the legal industry. 

The median tuition for construction law degree programs is $20,000. No matter which school you choose, make sure to check the accreditation of your prospective school or program. 

You may be required to attend a law school accredited by the American Bar Association or a similar organization. High-quality schools may also offer accelerated programs that allow you to earn your degree after two years if you have completed 18 credits in your bachelor’s degree program.

Construction Law Degree Options: 

What They Look Like Construction law degree options vary by institution and by state. Still, many of the top-ranked schools offer degrees that focus on both civil and commercial law. 

The program covers the legal aspects of a wide range of construction projects. Students may learn about construction law from specific courses that focus on the construction industry, including common forms of contracts, building codes and real estate covenants, architectural specifications, and contractors’ and owners’ responsibilities. 

They may also learn about project management and draft construction documents that adhere to federal laws and local ordinances. Top-ranked schools typically offer at least three different tracks that prepare students for various careers in the legal field. 

One way may focus on business law, while the other may focus on criminal or civil law. Some schools also offer further specialization within each of these tracks.

Construction Law Degree Programs: What to Expect 

Courses for construction law degrees will differ from one school to another. Still, many courses are designed to prepare you for a range of legal careers. Construction law degree programs may include the following:

Contract Drafting and Negotiations

Real Estate and Land Use Planning

Construction Litigation and Dispute Resolution

Students should check their course catalogs to learn about course descriptions, prerequisites, detailed course descriptions, costs for books or lab materials, and more. Many schools offer a practicum to help students gain hands-on experience with practicing law. 

Most programs also allow you to transfer up to 60 credits toward a bachelor’s degree from another institution.

Many schools offer additional options, including accelerated programs that allow you to earn your degree after two years if you have completed 18 credits in your bachelor’s degree program.

Construction Law Degree Programs: Advantages 

Construction law is an exciting field with great potential for careers both within and outside the legal industry. Students who attend top-ranked schools with construction law degree programs may find that these degrees offer several advantages. 

Top-ranked schools offer graduates a career path that allows them to work as Construction project managers.

A construction engineer

An architect or planner (architectural or planning)

A land-use designer or planner (landscape architecture)

Construction industry lawyers help developers, contractors, and owners in disputes over building permits, contracts, and other legal issues. By combining technical skills with applicable business skills and legal training, these graduates will have several options for employment.

The fast-paced nature of the construction industry requires that students meet deadlines and know how to work within tight budgets.

Graduates who do well in this type of environment tend to love the variety of their job and the ability to see a completed structure from conception to completion.

Many construction law degree programs also offer students opportunities for professional development and advancement.

Construction Law Degree Programs: Disadvantages 

The construction industry, like any other, has its share of risk factors. Construction laws apply differently in different areas, and these laws can frequently change as they’re updated or amended. 

In addition, business practices that worked well in one location may not be successful in another place due to differences in local culture and preferences. 

Suppose you’re unsure whether a construction law degree program is right for you. In that case, there are other legal programs available that don’t focus on any particular industry.

In Conclusion

If you are considering a construction law degree, here is everything you need to know. Construction lawyers represent contractors and subcontractors in disputes with each other or the property owner where work is being performed. 

Construction lawyers are usually involved with cases surrounding the building of infrastructure and public works projects like bridges and roads. 

They may also be tasked with helping clients navigate real estate issues related to these types of projects. To learn more about how you can become a construction lawyer, contact an attorney.


Image by: Pamela Buenrostro

Construction Management | Coursera