James J. Terry, a partner at Zetlin & De Chiara LLP, is a successful litigator, negotiator and advocate specializing in the resolution of complex design, development and construction management disputes across the spectrum of the built environment.
In practice for more than four decades, his portfolio includes construction defect claims, bid protests, change orders, liquidated damages, delays, cumulative impact claims, lost productivity, acceleration and inefficiency claims for national and international clients. He resolves disputes involving construction contract and tort issues through mediation, arbitration and litigation. He has defended or secured more than hundreds of millions of dollars in claims and settlements on behalf of his clients.
Mr. Terry devotes a significant portion of his practice to contract preparation, and he has negotiated and drafted construction management contracts for major real estate development projects in the academic, institutional, cultural, hospitality, medical, retail and office sectors.
A skillful communicator, he excels at making clear the responsibilities and rights of all parties in a transaction and ensuring that his clients’ roles are accurately reflected in agreements. His clients also seek his counsel on matters of risk management and general business practices.
Mr. Terry’s expertise includes the development and execution of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) that set labor compensation, work rules, schedules and performance expectations upfront, with the goal of ensuring quality and achieving the economical and efficient completion of a construction project.
In addition, Mr. Terry has deep experience in the area of performance and payment bond agreements. He has represented bond sureties in connection with the takeover and completion of several major projects from defaulting contractors; these include a sewage treatment plant, a state transportation authority complex, portions of the Washington D.C. and New York City subway systems and a substantial railroad maintenance facility.
Prior to joining Zetlin and De Chiara, Mr. Terry served as Vice President/General Counsel of F.J. Sciame Construction Co., Inc. As a Litigation Partner of an international law firm, he served as the lead appellate attorney in a significant and precedent-setting win for his client and benefiting similarly situated industry participants.
He is a member of the New York Building Congress and the Federal Bar Council, and is a former arbitrator for the Court-Annexed Arbitration Program, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
Recent publications of his include “Leveraging Labor to Control Costs “ in Construction Today.
Mr. Terry holds the notable AV rating for ethical standards and legal ability from Martindale Hubbell and has been named a New York Super Lawyer in the practice area of construction/surety law by Super Lawyers magazine.
The following are select representative matters:
News & Events
- 06.10.2021Legal 500
Described as a "boutique construction law firm with a deep bench and understanding of how a construction project is built and how to address disputes when they happen,” Zetlin & De Chiara is routinely involved in projects across the US and internationally. Legal 500 selected Michael Zetlin, Michael De Chiara and Michael Vardaro to the Leading Lawyers list. Michael De Chiara was praised as an “expert in the field.” Michael Zetlin was lauded for his representation of national and multi-national construction companies as well as premier owners, developers and contractors. Other members of the “very pragmatic” team who were recognized were Tara Mulrooney and Jim Terry.
New York, NY (November 5, 2020) - Leading construction law firm Zetlin & De Chiara LLP announced today that ten of the firm’s attorneys were selected to Super Lawyers 2020, part of Thomson Reuters. An annual attorney rating service, Super Lawyers recognizes outstanding lawyers who have attained a high level of professional achievement and are well respected by their peers and colleagues. The selection process, culling from over 70 practice areas, includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.
New York, NY, (August 20, 2020) -- Zetlin & De Chiara LLP is pleased to announce that nine lawyers have been included in the 2021 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America. Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers has become regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence.
In addition, three lawyers have been included in the 2021 Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch. Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch recognizes lawyers demonstrating outstanding professional skills early in their careers in private practice in the United States.
Eleven Zetlin & De Chiara LLP Attorneys Recognized by Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers 2019
Zetlin & De Chiara LLP has been recognized as a leading construction law firm by The Legal 500 US in its annual guide.
- 08.15.2019The Best Lawyers in America 2020
Eight attorneys at Zetlin and De Chiara LLP were recognized in The Best Lawyers in America© for 2020.
Zetlin & De Chiara LLP announced today that the firm has once again been selected for National Tier 1 in the areas of Construction Law and Construction Litigation by U.S. News for its annual “Best Law Firms” ranking.
Zetlin and De Chiara LLP, a leading construction law firm, is honored to announce that seven of the firm’s attorneys have been named “Best Lawyers in America” for 2019. Additionally, co-founding partner Michael Zetlin has been selected as a “Lawyer of the Year” within the Construction Law practice group in the New York City region by the respected, peer review guide.
If you’ve had your ear to the ground in this industry for any length of time, you’ve doubtless heard of Zetlin & De Chiara LLP (Z&D), one of the foremost law firms in the real estate and construction businesses. With a singular focus on construction law, Z&D has risen to the forefront of its field over the course of its 26-year history. Priding itself on its advocacy on behalf of everyone from architects and engineers to real estate owners and contractors, there’s no law firm better equipped to represent the members of the construction industry.
New York, NY (August 15, 2016) - Zetlin and De Chiara LLP is pleased to announce that seven of the firm’s attorneys were named to the 2017 Best Lawyers in America list.
Best Lawyers is the oldest and most highly-respected peer review guide to the legal profession worldwide. Ranked attorneys reflect the high level of respect earned among other leading lawyers and clients within their communities and the same practice areas for their abilities, their professionalism and their integrity.
- 03.2009Promotion of Jim Terry to PartnerBuilding Long Island
The promotion of Jim Terry to partner were profiled in the March 2009 issue of Building Long Island.
- An announcement regarding the arrival of James Terry appeared in the December 17-23, 2007 issue of Crain’s New York Business.
An announcement regarding the arrival of James Terry appeared in the December 17-23, 2007 issue of Crain’s New York Business.
James Terry, Partner and Timothy Hegarty, Partner
How to Address the Impact on Development, Construction and Design:
Answers for the Construction Community
- 12.04.2017James Terry, Moderator
- 10.2012New York State MWBE Forum - For Design Professionals: New Work Opportunities
- 09.2011Owner-Contractor Agreements: Understanding Provisions Affecting the Design Professional
- 2011New York County Lawyers Association and Tort/Insurance Practice Section of the American Bar Association
- The Fundamentals of Construction Contracts: Understanding the Issues Seminar
- Moot Court JudgeColumbia Law School
- 01.2011ABA Forum on the Construction Industry: Performance Bond Surety's Duty of Investigation
Following our webinar, COVID-19 Challenges to the Construction Industry, we assembled a Questions & Answers based upon questions participants posed and to issues we discussed.
Mock Mediation Led by Z&D"s Tim Hegarty Adds Dimension to Columbia University Course.
Summer turned up the heat at Zetlin & De Chiara LLP where we were involved in two of the most prominent construction cases in the nation. With attorneys airborne between the East and West Coasts, the office has been busy on the ground with client matters, fielding questions from the press, speaking at industry events and supporting community and professional organizations. Even as the temperature outside cools, our high level of activity shows no signs of chilling.
- 03.2014Leveraging Labor to Control CostsConstruction Today
- 12.2013What do you mean there's an issue with my additional insured coverage?Zetlin & De Chiara LLP Newsbulletin
- 09.10.2012Integrated Project Delivery: An Industry OverviewZetlin & De Chiara LLP Review
- 08.2011Owner/Contractor Agreements: A Drafter's DozenReal Estate Weekly
- 12.2010China: New Regulations Establishing Foreign Invested PartnershipsZetlin & De Chiara LLP Review
- 2010Legislative Alert: Real Estate Deductions for Commercial PropertiesQuarterly Review, Zetlin & De Chiara LLP
- 2010Recent Construction Contract Act Amendments Impact the Owner/Developer – Contractor RelationshipQuarterly Review, Zetlin & De Chiara LLP
- 12.2004The Fundamentals of Construction Contracts: Understanding the IssuesLorman Educational Services Seminar
Columbia University School of Law, J.D.
New York University, B.A. summa cum laude
- New York
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
- U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York
- U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York