Firm News

In a construction-related dispute in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, McManus & Felsen LLP’s (M&F’s) clients filed motions to compel their dispute to arbitration. The district court denied the motions, and M&F’s clients appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The appellees moved to dismiss the appeals, arguing that the parties’ construction contract provided that the Maryland Uniform Arbitration Act (MUAA) governed and that the MUAA does not allow for an interlocutory appeal—an appeal before trial and before the trial court has entered a final order—of a denial of a motion to compel arbitration.

M&F argued that, despite the contract’s expressly identifying the MUAA, the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) also applies, and under the FAA a party has the right to an interlocutory appeal of the district court’s denial of motions to compel arbitration. The Fourth Circuit agreed with M&F, finding that, since the parties’ transaction involved interstate commerce and M&F’s clients had adequately invoked the FAA, the Fourth Circuit has jurisdiction to hear the interlocutory appeals. 

The Fourth Circuit’s opinion is attached. 


Joe McManus and Dale Ellickson of McManus & Felsen LLP will be presenting a webinar on Thursday, June 15, 2017 titled “AIA vs. ConsensusDOCS:  Understand Which Documents Are Right for Your Organization”. This webinar is hosted by WPL Publishing Co., Inc., publisher of ConstructionPro Network.

This year, significant changes have been made to the standard form construction contracts. It the end of last year the AIA issued wholesale revisions to the commonly used AIA Standard Form Documents. Earlier this year, ConsensusDOCS released its updated forms including its Design-Build series. Although these “form documents” have now been around for many years, the debate rages on as to which form should be used, when and why. Attend this 90-minute presentation to learn and explore the key differences between the AIA and ConsensusDOCS, and to develop a better understanding of which “form document” best suits your needs.

This presentation will discuss updates to these documents, the ins and outs of the competing forms, and the biases that are found in each set. You will be more prepared to identify the key terms that may seem innocuous, but in reality, could have a significant impact on your rights and obligations should you enter one of these form contracts.

This 90-minute, information-packed program will help you:

  • Review changes to the AIA and ConsensusDOCS contract documents released in 2017 and 2016
  • Understand the similarities and key distinctions between the AIA and ConsensusDOCS
  • Learn how these new documents can help you draft better contracts that will reduce disputes and claims
  • Take advantage of and determine which form document is right for your organization
  • And much, much more!

This program will be more than just a review of the standard contract forms. Your speakers will take sides and comment/negotiate from the contractors and owners/architect’s side to share the changes to the contracts, in an informative and entertaining dialog between the speakers.

To register, visit


CLSA 1.jpgJoe McManus has been selected as a Fellow of the Construction Lawyers Society of America. 

The CLSA is an invitation-only international honorary association composed of preeminent lawyers specializing in construction law and related fields.  Fellowship is limited and selective, with lawyers being invited into Fellowship upon a proven record of excellence and accomplishment in construction law at both the trial and appellate levels.  Lawyers nominated or selected may be in any discipline in the construction law arena, including contract specialization, negotiations, litigation, arbitration, appellate and/or surety law, but who have in addition superior ethical reputations. The CLSA is dedicated to promoting superior advocacy and ethical standards in construction law and fostering a scholarly and advanced exchange of ideas in all practices related to the specialty.  


McManus & Felsen LLP is pleased to announce Joe McManus and Dan Toomey were nominated in the 2017 Construction edition of Who’s Who Legal. Who’s Who Legal’s website reads, “We identify the leading construction experts, who provide assistance to clients as expert witnesses in major construction litigation as well as advising on an array of quantum and delay issues. This year, 128 individuals from over 50 firms are highlighted for their exceptional expertise in the sector.”


Dale Ellickson joins McManus & Felsen LLP

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

We are proud to announce that Dale Ellickson has joined McManus & Felsen LLP as Of Counsel.  His areas of practice include construction contract law and professional liability of architects and engineers.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and Georgia bars as well as a Virginia architect with the high honor of election to the College of Fellows of The American Institute of Architects.  See his detailed profile here.


Joe McManus attended the 28th Annual American College of Construction Lawyers Meeting in Amelia Island, Florida. Mr. McManus is a past President of the American College of Construction Lawyers (ACCL), a fellowship of the 175 leading construction lawyers in the US, with other Fellows from Australia, Canada, UK, and France.

Fellowship is extended by invitation to those who are found to have mastered the practice or the teaching of construction law and dispute resolution in the complex technical and legal fields pertaining to the built environment, whose professional careers have been marked by the highest standards of ethical conduct, scholarship, professionalism, and collegiality, and who have demonstrated a commitment to "give back" to the construction industry. The College provides a professional forum for its Fellows to explore and analyze legal and industry issues arising nationally and internationally. (ACCL History and Purpose)


Karlee S. Blank accepted a juridical clerkship for the United States Court of Federal Claims. Her last day with McManus & Felsen LLP was Tuesday, March 21, 2017.


Karlee Blank’s article, Toil or Trouble: “Labor” Under the Federal Miller Act will be published in the Spring 2017 edition of the ABA Forum on Construction Law’s “Under Construction”.  It details how not all “labor” is recoverable under the Act. 


The American Bar Association recently told Tom Carr that it will publish his third article this year on suspension and debarment law. Tom's article on debarment catch-all clauses will be published in the winter edition of The Procurement Lawyer, his analysis of constitutional debarment due-process law theory will be published in the spring edition of the Public Contract Law Journal, and his study of state and local debarment law will be published as a chapter in the Fourth Edition of The Practitioner’s Guide to Suspension and Debarment.


On November 8, 2016, Dan Toomey again will Co-Direct the DC NITA Advanced Trial Advocacy Program which will be held between November 8 through 13, 2016 at the U.S. District Courthouse in Washington, DC. This will be the twelfth Program that Dan has either directed of co-directed. Dan previously was the co-founder of the Georgetown/NITA Program, begun in 1978. He was a co-team leader of that Program for 25 years. In 2013 Dan was the recipient NITA’s Robert Oliphant Award for distinguished service to that organization.   

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