Session 4: Professional Ethics and the Law

Date: January 9, 2015
Location: National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB)
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: John Herrington, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP BD+C & Kimberly Tuttle, AIA, NCARB

Session 4 PDF


session 4_1
The fourth session of the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program (CKLDP) was held at NCARB Offices on Friday, January 9. Kimberly Tuttle and John Herrington organized the session focusing on professional ethics and the law with the architecture industry. With a dense agenda including three presentations, a breakout session on contract analysis, and a Q+A wrap-up session, the Scholars were provided different perspectives on ethics, legal standards, and contracts.

session 4_2As the Chair of the DC Board of Architecture and Interior Design, Ronnie shared with us some valuable insight into the standards of professional practice and how the board works to improve the profession in the DC community. He reviewed some case studies and helped the Scholars understand the concepts of legality and ethics. Life is not normally like the plot in a classic movie, Mr. McGhee explained, it’s not as simple as “bad guy versus good guy” where things are very black and white and easy to acknowledge – oftentimes, everyone has their own motivations for the decisions they make. The onus then is put on us, as professionals, to ask ourselves not only if our decisions are legally correct, but if they are also morally and ethically correct. He left us with a simple question, we must ask ourselves: “Are you proud of yourself in making this decision?”
session 4_3As the person who literally wrote the book on contract negotiation for architects, Ava Abramowitz urged the Scholars to recognize that what is best for us as architects on a project is what is best for our client. Proving that we can most aptly advocate for our profession by helping our clients become better business people, Ms. Abramowitz showed us ways we can calm the emotional and sometimes tense process of contract negotiation, by distilling everything down to simple business decisions for our clients to easily navigate. She showed us how to ask the right questions and come to understand our clients’ motivations, resulting in fair compensation and contract negotiations in the profession.

session 4_4Terrence McShane delivered an energetic presentation on law for architects. Going over specific contract language, he stressed to the Scholars to be actively involved and aware of the risks and liability issues. Mr. McShane used various case studies to impart helpful hints and tips in navigating the waters of liability and contract negotiations – including indemnification language in contracts, judicious documentation of all activities in a project, getting all scope and services in writing, and understanding your “standard of care.”

Afterwards the Scholars were able to work hand in hand with Mr. McShane and Ms. Abramowitz in analyzing and reviewing real contract samples and working on distinguishing what red flags might look like and how the Scholars might be able to find a solution. The Scholars broke out into smaller groups to dissect different contract samples and report back to the group their findings and discuss what they learned.

session 4_5Finally, the Scholars came back together for a Q & A session with Ms. Abramowitz and Mr. McShane to summarize what was learned and wrap up the session with some in-depth discussion into Integrated Product Delivery (IPD) projects and the various ways that project players can organize a mutually incentivized project delivery system.