David A. Ericksen

David Ericksen is a trusted resource and advocate to the professional service community (design, construction, environmental, real estate, and insurance) and passionately committed to collaboration in his client’s long-term strategic success. He has repeatedly and successfully represented design, construction, real estate and environmental professionals in jury trial, bench trial, single arbitrator arbitration, and panel arbitration as well as mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution in state and federal courts. He has built on that experience of troubled projects and contracts and failed communications to become a trusted resource and counselor on the risk management strategies to avoid such disputes through strategic planning and management. In that capacity, he focuses on contractual, risk management and litigation issues affecting the design, construction, environmental, real estate, and insurance professional community. He does so both as outside general counsel to many firms as well as short term interventions in pursuit of strategic solutions and remedies. As a result, he is a frequent speaker before construction professional organizations such as the AIA, SEA, ACEC, NSPE, SDA, CSI and others, and also provides in-house training seminars and strategic planning for firms. He has written numerous articles addressing issues important to the design and construction communities which have been published by professional organizations and industry related periodicals.
He is a graduate of the Law School at the University of California, Berkeley after receiving multiple undergraduate degrees from Pacific Lutheran University. Following law school, Mr. Ericksen served as the law clerk to Justice James M. Dolliver of the Washington State Supreme Court. He has been admitted to the Bar of the States of California and Washington and multiple Federal Courts up to and including the United States Supreme Court as a nominee of ACEC. Mr. Ericksen has been named a Northern Californian “Super Lawyer” for more than 18 years.

Representative Publications

  • “16 Contract Provisions You Need to Know” – PE Magazine – March 2011
  • “A Sustainable Standard of Care? Managing Evolving & Innovative Products, Processes & Performance Standards in Design Delivery” – The AIA Trust – December 2010
  • “Digital Stamping, A Strategic Plan for Design Professionals” – Structure Magazine – November 2017
  • “Dispute Management and Resolution” – The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice (15th Ed.) by the American Institute of Architects – December 2014
  • “No Guarantees” – PE Magazine – March 2012


Representative Papers and Alerts

  • Are You Ready for Prime Time!?! The Real World of Prime Consultant Contract Provisions
  • Building Toward the Paperless Project: Risks, Rewards, and Safeguards
  • California’s “SB800” – Legislative Engineering of Residential Construction Liability Implications and Strategies
  • Can You Condo? Strategic Analysis for Design Professionals Evaluating the Risks and Opportunities of Condominium Projects
  • Case Law Alert: Professional Engineer Found to Have No Duty to Property Owner or Contractor
  • Certificate of Merit Statute Gets Teeth
  • Changing Combatants to Collaborators: Building Possible Relationships Between Design Professionals and Construction Managers
  • Changing of the Guard: Dealing with the Transition Between Design Professionals
  • The Collections/Claim Connection: Getting Paid Without Getting Sued
  • Dangers of Design Delegation: Lessons from the Kansas City Hyatt Disaster
  • Dealing with Time is of the Essence
  • Design-Build Projects: Seizing Opportunity and Managing Risk
  • Design Delegation/Transfer: The Buck Stops Where?
  • The Design Professional’s Perspective – Hard Markets, Hard Times: Getting Harder?
  • Electronic Record Keeping and Discovery
  • E-Mail as a Project Communication Tool: Loose Fingers Sink Ships
  • Engineering the Service Agreement: Contractual Issues and Strategies for Engineers
  • Evaluating and Controlling Third Party Liability
  • Getting Paid: Strategies to Secure Payment for Services Delivered
  • Know Your Limits: A Design Professional Guide to Limited Liability
  • Lessons from the War Room: Contractual Provisions for Architects/Engineers
  • Making the Grade: Testing Design Professional Indemnity Provisions
  • Managing and Capitalizing on the Shift Toward Risk-Based Corrective Actions
  • Managing The Construction Manager
  • Managing the Risk in Construction Management
  • The Mold Menace: It’s Here! Are you ready?
  • The New AIA Form Contracts: The Good, the Bad, and the Dangerous
  • Opportunities of Innovation & Limitations of Reality: Providing Design Services in a World of Accelerating Changes & Restrictions
  • Pareto Principles of Design Professional Service Agreements
  • The Perfect Storm – Managing and Surviving Threats to Budgets and Schedules
  • Project Certification and Closeout in a Virtual COVID World and After
  • Public Facilities and Public Liability: Design Exposure Containment with Contracts, Collaboration, and Closure
  • Resiliency in the Climate Challenge: A Guide for Design and Construction Professionals
  • Risk Management for Construction Managers
  • Seven Steps to Effective Risk Management for Architects/Design Professionals
  • Skating on Thin Ice: Surviving and Succeeding on Projects with Precarious Contract Terms
  • When Less Service Means More Risk: Managing Risk of Reduced Services
  • Whose Design is It Anyway?


Representative Conference Presentations

  • “Strategies for Professional Services in the “New” Normal” – PUA Advisory Council – Chicago – June 2022
  • “Leaning Tower Claims Expose” – Structures Conference – Atlanta – April 2022
  • “Design Build as a Second Language” – Dallas, Texas and Phoenix, Arizona – May 2018
  • “Proposal $trategies for $anity and $ecurity” – American Institute of Architects, California – June 2016
  • “Opportunities, Strategies, and Risks in Design Joint Ventures” – Willis Towers Watson A/E Large Firm Symposium – Chicago, Illinois – June 2016
  • “’Everything’ You Need to Know About Design Professional Agreements” – Society of Design Administrators EDSymposium – Spokane, Washington – May 2016
  • “The Ever Evolving Standard of Care” – Invited Attorneys Conference – Tampa – April 2010
  • “The Changing Face of Practice and the Contracts to Make It Work” – Structural Engineers Association of Utah – Salt Lake City, Utah – 2007
  • “Breaking the Mold Before It Breaks You” – Design Professional Risk Control Group Convocation – Vancouver, B.C. – 2002
  • “Mediation and Arbitration of International Construction Disputes” – International Construction Super Conference – London, England – 2001
  • “Design in the E-World” – Design Professional Risk Control Group Convocation – San Francisco, California – 2000
  • “Sustainable Design: Structural Engineering Relevance, Challenges, and Threats” – AIA California Council – Palm Desert, California – 2000


Multiple Presentations Over Multiple Years:

  • American Counsel of Engineering Companies
  • American Institute of Architects
  • American Institute of Architects California Counsel
  • AE Pronet – Multiple Years
  • Society of Design Administrators
  • Structural Engineers Association
  • Structures Conference
  • All Ohio Convocation
  • Assured Partners
  • Design Professional Risk Control Group
  • Professional Liability Agents Network
  • Risk Strategies of Texas
  • Willis Towers Watson Legal Roundtable and Large Firm Convocations
  • American Council of Engineering Companies Risk Management Committee
  • AE Pronet
  • ABA Construction Law Forum
  • APPOINTMENTS: City of Napa Board of Fire and Building Code Appeals – 2020-present
  • Litigation Experience
  • Back-to-back successful multi-million dollar fee recoveries in arbitration related to highway projects
  • Successful defense in 11-1 jury verdict on $56M claim against structural engineer for design of residential subdivision.
  • Successful defense in 12-0 and 11-1 jury verdicts of $3M claim for residential renovation design in San Francisco, California.
  • Successful defense on directed verdict of structural engineer on claim for seismic investigation deficiencies.
  • Successful defense in 12-0 jury verdict of claims against civil engineer for roadway compaction failures.
  • Successful defense of civil engineer in 12-0 jury verdict in five-month trial of claim for slope stability and landslide issues.
  • Successful defense of architect to defense verdict on condominium homeowner’s association claim.
  • Successful defense of structural engineer on claims for design of ninety-unit condominium project.
  • Successful defense of architect on K-12 construction project to bench judgment for defense.
  • Successful defense of structural engineer on residential defect claim.
  • Successful Motion for Summary Judgment in defense of engineer on claims for defects in design of San Francisco Cable Car system.
  • Obtained successive defense summary judgments of owners’ $25 million claim for foundation defects.
  • Successful demurrer and SLAPP suit motion to defeat developer’s claim against environmental consultant for preparation of unfavorable environmental impact report.  Upheld on appeal.
  • Successful defense in arbitration for claims against water engineer for California water treatment project.  Preserved through multiple state and federal challenges.
  • Successful defense of architect on hospital design claim and recovery of over $3 million in unpaid fees to architect.
  • Successful defense of attorneys involved in real estate and construction project transactions.
  • Successful arbitration of claims against architect on hospital project.
  • Successful arbitration of claim for alleged errors and omissions in design of commercial office building to a defense result.
  • Successful arbitration of dangerous condition claim.
  • Defense of structural engineer on claim for design errors in Guam high-rise hotel.
  • Defense of design-builder on claims arising out of design-build construction of soy sauce factory.
  • Negotiated dismissal of $3 million claim for design of laboratory facilities.
  • Successfully represented property owner in prosecution of claim for petroleum contamination.
  • Defeated claim for soil and groundwater contamination in light industrial area.


Transactional Experience

  • Preparation of partnership and corporate documents for entities ranging from sole practices to multi-disciplinary national practices.
  • Preparation, review, and negotiation of all manners of agreements including standard form service agreements, joint venture agreements, prime association agreements, design/build agreements, and independent contractor agreements.  Projects range from large public projects to small residential projects, as well as master or program agreements.
  • Consulting, intervention, and risk management in ongoing project concerns and disputes.
  • Training seminars and advice regarding professional practices and risk management.
  • General advice regarding all matters related to the practice of design professionals, construction managers, and environmental professionals as well as insurance and real estate professionals.
  • General counsel and defense counsel to design teams for major public and infrastructure projects such as the San Francisco Bay Bridge, Interstate 405 Expansion, and the DeYoung Museum.