Building law knowhow by David Lewis

David Lewis

I began my career in local government, working for the legal departments of various councils, including the London Borough of Islington. I held various positions at Islington, including Deputy Head of Law. My work there included the management of the conveyancing and contracts sections. During my time at Islington I built up my understanding of construction contracts and participated in the work of the Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT), which publishes standard forms of building contract, serving on its Management Contracting Working Party.


David Lewis

In 1990 I joined the construction group at Speechly Bircham, a big law firm in central London. This gave me a crash course in the commercial side of construction law, which I learned is not just about protecting the client in the event of disputes, vital though that is; I discovered that the client's main concern is to have a set of construction documentation that will satisfy a lender, buyer or tenant, and I became expert in producing and negotiating construction agreements which did just that.

I also learned to work effectively with property solicitors. Already familiar (as a former conveyancer) with agreements for sale and agreements for lease, I mastered the construction aspects of funding agreements and development agreements.

In 2001 I left Speechly Bircham to start my own practice, which I called Lawbuild (or Lawbuild Solicitors). This was a regulated law firm that served numerous clients between September 2001 and September 2009. My clients during that period included developers, colleges, construction companies, specialist contractors, construction professionals, homeowners, law firms, and many other businesses and individuals.

I enjoyed running Lawbuild Solicitors, but I began to realise that it didn't make economic sense for a sole practitioner, employing no fee-earning staff, to be set up as a regulated law firm, and that the most sensible course of action was for me to transfer the firm to a successor practice and become a self-employed consultant to law firms (including those for whom I was already a consultant. I did this with effect from 1 October 2009.  At the same time I became a consultant to the successor practice, a firm owned by a friend and former colleague, and enjoyed an excellent relationship with him and his staff. I have also been a consultant to Child & Child, whose partners and staff I much enjoyed working with, and occasionally to other law firms.

I ceased to be a practising solicitor on 1 November 2013, and I was voluntarily removed from the roll of solicitors as from 19 March 2014. So I am now a retired former solicitor. I continue doing interesting and worthwhile voluntary work, and currently serve as Treasurer of my local chess club.

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