Session 5: Practicing Professionalism

Date: January 10, 2014
Location: NCARB – 1801 K Street NW, Suite 700K
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: Kendrick Richardson, NCARB, AIA, LEED AP & Jon Toonkel, AIA, LEED AP

Session 5 PDF


The fifth session of the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program (CKLDP) was held at NCARB’s Headquarters on Friday, January 10th.  The topic of discussion, led by Kendrick Richardson and Jon Toonkel, was Practicing Professionalism.  The focus of this session was to gain deeper understanding of the complex legal and ethical issues surrounding the practice of architecture, and how to integrate them into daily practice.

The session was kicked off by a presentation on Professional Ethics by Jay Stephens, Esq., Hon AIA – Senior VP and General Counsel, AIA.  Jay’s presentation discussed the development of the AIA Code of Ethics, the ethical duties of Architects and gave real life samples of how ethics can be applied through a series of dilemmas.

Jay Stephens presents the AIA Code of Ethics and poses ethical dilemmas to the participants

Jay Stephens presents the AIA Code of Ethics and poses ethical dilemmas to the participants


The portion of the presentation dealing with a series of dilemmas was very helpful to understand how the Code of Ethics applies to real life situations.  Some of the questions put forth were:

  • Can an architect take the work of another architect if approached by a client?
  • Can you take work with you if you leave a firm?
  • What credit do I need to give to others?
  • What is the architect’s responsibility with clients?
  •  What is the responsibility for the works of others?

Jay’s presentation concluded with a description of the process when someone behaves unethically and possible penalties that can be imposed.

The second presentation was given by Stephen F. (Hobie) Andrews, Esq., Hon. AIA with the topic of Law for Architects 101.  Hobie’s presentation gave the class a basic understanding of the legal duties and obligations surrounding the practice of architects.  The presentation was divided into two parts: discussion on the Law in general and an interactive session to work with contracts.

During the first part, some of the topics that were further developed are:

  •  Code interpretation
  • Standard of Care
  • Liability issues
  • Tort Law
  • Negligence
  • Contract claims
  • Defense in Contract claims
  • Dispute resolution
  • Intellectual Property /Copyright
  • Insurance

During the interactive session the class had the opportunity to review a series of contract provisions that had some of the text modified to change the way the contract was supposed to read.  This was a very successful way for the class to engage with what had been discussed throughout the day and to better understand how a few words can make a contract unfavorable for either party and set an unrealistic set of goals for a project.

Participants review mock contracts and propose edits to problematic language.

Participants review mock contracts and propose edits to problematic language.


The last portion of the day was a discussion panel between Stephen F. (Hobie) Andrews, Mike Heatwhole, Executive Vice President & Partner, Ames and Gough and Jeff Nees, CFO, WDG Architecture moderated by Kendrick Richardson and Jon Toonkel.  The dialogue that took place allowed the class to understand the different stakeholder’s interest within contractual language.


The panelists discuss their perspectives and experiences on contracts, ethics, and law as they relate to the practice of architecture.


The candid conversation between panelists and class interaction covered a range of topics such as:

  • Types of insurance
  • Amount of insurance
  • Attorney’s and insurance fees
  • Insurance for different project delivery options
    • Design / Build
    • Design / Bid / Build
    • Integrated Project Delivery
  • Error and Emissions provisions
  • What type of contract and insurance can a small firm benefit from?