Known for strategic thinking and successful representation of numerous clients in some of the most high profile construction cases of the last 20 years, Michael K. De Chiara is one of the pre-eminent construction lawyers in the country.
Mr. De Chiara regularly represents clients in domestic and international construction disputes where the hard dollar amounts in controversy exceed $100 million. For example, he successfully defended the engineer in the collapse of a major casino, and the resultant claims of over $300 million. He prevailed on behalf of another (engineer) in a suit brought by a large California hospital where the claim exceeded $150 million.
Mr. De Chiara is the only construction attorney in private practice who has represented the Federal General Services Administration, successfully defending it against a claim in excess of $100 million in connection with a major Federal courthouse. Mr. De Chiara has also successfully represented the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority in several major litigations. Mr. De Chiara is currently involved in the most high profile construction dispute in the United States involving a large condominium in San Francisco. Mr. De Chiara is also highly regarded in the area of construction contract negotiation and drafting. For example, he represented the United Nations in developing their model design build agreement to be used throughout the world. He has drafted owner-contractor agreements for construction budgets up to $850 million on behalf of New York City’s most prominent real estate owners. Recently, Mr. De Chiara was retained to negotiate the largest private Project Labor Agreement for a single building in the history of the United States.
He has been involved in Public Private Partnership ventures and has negotiated and drafted contracts for Integrated Project Delivery projects. Mr. De Chiara was involved in negotiating and drafting the engineering contracts for the rebuild of the World Trade Center buildings in New York, representing clients dealing with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Silverstein Properties. He negotiated the architectural contract for the World Trade Center Memorial, the engineering and architectural contracts for the Hudson Yards Development, the largest private building development in the history of the United States, and architectural and engineering contracts for virtually every other building type in the country.
Mr. De Chiara is active in many organizations and serves on the Boards of Directors of The New York Landmarks Conservancy and The New York Building Foundation. In addition, Mr. De Chiara serves as the General Counsel for the American Institute of Architects, New York State and the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York. On a pro-bono basis, he litigated to protect and preserve the famous Picasso work Le Tricorne, which was located in the Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram Building in New York City. Mr. De Chiara is a recipient of the AIA New York State President’s Citation for Outstanding Service, and the March of Dimes’ Thomas E. Diana Spirit of Volunteerism Award in recognition of his dedication to the community.
Mr. De Chiara has given numerous presentations on issues affecting construction projects, has co-authored a well-respected book on construction law and is a frequent contributor of articles and quotes on issues affecting the design, construction and real estate industries.
The following are select representative matters:
News & Events
- 06.04.2020Zetlin & De Chiara LLP Earns Top Recognition in Chambers USA for Being “Top Caliber in Matters Arising in Construction Law”
Zetlin & De Chiara LLP Earns Top Recognition in Chambers USA for Being “Top Caliber in Matters Arising in Construction Law”
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. This marks an increase from 2019 when seven attorneys were listed.
Zetlin & De Chiara LLP has been ranked as a top construction law firm in New York for the 13th consecutive year by Chambers USA in its 2019 guide to top law firms and lawyers. Four partners were again ranked as leaders in their fields.
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.
Zetlin & De Chiara LLP has been recognized for as a leading construction law firm by Legal 500 US in its annual guide.
Construction law firm Zetlin & De Chiara LLP announced today that for the 12th consecutive year, the firm has been ranked as a top construction law firm in New York by Chambers USA. Additionally, four partners from the firm were ranked as leaders in their fields.
This summer, the world looked on in disbelief as fire consumed the 24-story Grenfell Tower residential high-rise in London. The building burned for more than 24 hours before firefighters could extinguish it in full. Reports have confirmed approximately 80 fatalities so far, but that number could still grow as inspectors continue to survey the site and identify victims.
An investigation into the fire's cause has centered on exterior cladding that was part of a renovation completed in May 2016, although the building’s lack of fire sprinklers has come under public scrutiny as well. Those panels, which contain the highly flammable polyethylene, are thought to have helped spread the flames after a refrigerator electrical fire on the fourth floor.
Polyethylene was also found in the pile of material that burned so hot under Interstate 85 in Atlanta in March that it collapsed a 350-foot section of highway. And it is because of that flammability that the panels' manufacturer, Arconic, formerly part of Alcoa, says they are not meant for use in high-rise construction. Yet they were installed at Grenfell and other towers.
Finding one person or company to hold liable when a building material has been improperly or unscrupulously specified or installed is often impossible — and given the increasingly collaborative nature of construction projects today, perhaps not advisable...
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.
- 03.2016The Cooperator
When your building or association is faced with an exterior maintenance or repair job, it’s important that you don’t just hire the first contractor who comes along; carrying out your due diligence can make the difference between working cooperatively with a contractor to get the project completed on time and on budget, or winding up with partial or poorly-done work and a mess of legal problems after the fact.
- 06.25.2015Real Estate Weekly
- 12.31.2011Super Lawyers
Forest City Ratner is four to six weeks away from signing a lease for 100,000 s/f of factory space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, according to executive vice president MaryAnne Gilmartin.
- 02.08.2010Michael De Chiara, Michael Zetlin, Ray Mellon and Carol Patterson were named leading construction litigators
Michael De Chiara, Michael Zetlin, Ray Mellon and Carol Patterson were named leading construction litigators in the January 26 – February 8, 2010 issue of New York Real Estate Journal.
- 02.01.2010Michael De Chiara, Michael Zetlin, Ray Mellon and Carol Patterson were named leading construction litigators in the January/February 2010 issue of Super LawyersSuper Lawyers
Michael De Chiara, Michael Zetlin, Ray Mellon and Carol Patterson were named leading construction litigators in the January/February 2010 issue of Super Lawyers.
- 12.2009Michael Zetlin and Michael De Chiara Recognized as Two of New York’s Best LawyersNew York Magazine
Michael Zetlin and Michael De Chiara were recognized as two of New York’s Best Lawyers 2010 in the December 21 - 28, 2009 issue of New York Magazine.
- 07.29.2009Energy to Build New YorkNew York Construction
An article titled “Energy to Build New York” was published in the July 2009 issue of New York Construction with commentary by Michael K. De Chiara.
- In the December 22nd issue of New York Magazine, Michael De Chiara and Michael Zetlin were recognized as New York’s Best Lawyers in the area of construction law.
In the December 22nd issue of New York Magazine, Michael De Chiara and Michael Zetlin were recognized as New York’s Best Lawyers in the area of construction law.
- Michael K. De Chiara & Michael S. Zetlin provided an interesting perspective on the topic of BIM (Building Information Modeling) which was featured in the July 21, 2008 issue of ENR magazine.
Michael K. De Chiara & Michael S. Zetlin provided an interesting perspective on the topic of BIM (Building Information Modeling) which was featured in the July 21, 2008 issue of ENR magazine.
- Four New York Partners, Michael S. Zetlin, Michael K. De Chiara, Raymond T. Mellon and Carol J. Patterson, were recognized in the September 23, 2007 issue
Four New York Partners, Michael S. Zetlin, Michael K. De Chiara, Raymond T. Mellon and Carol J. Patterson, were recognized in the September 23, 2007 issue of New York Magazine as Super Lawyers in the field of construction law. Click here for details.
- Michael K. De Chiara was quoted in the feature story of the September 2006 issue of New York Magazine titled, "The Breaking of Michael Arad."
Michael K. De Chiara was quoted in the feature story of the September 2006 issue of New York Magazine titled, "The Breaking of Michael Arad." Click here to read.
- Michael K. De Chiara authored an article titled, It's a BIM World... Get Ready." It appeared in the July 17, 2006 issue of the Engineering News Record.
Michael K. De Chiara authored an article titled, It's a BIM World... Get Ready." It appeared in the July 17, 2006 issue of the Engineering News Record.
- Chambers USA Guide, July 7, 2006, Zetlin & De Chiara recently received glowing reviews from the Chambers USA Guide
Chambers USA Guide, July 7, 2006, Zetlin & De Chiara recently received glowing reviews from the Chambers USA Guide; clients interviewed by the guide praised the firm and its attorneys for their "quality of work, attention, and intelligence." The partners in particular were extolled for their knowledge, capability, and devotion to their work. The firm is seen as "developing a prominent leading practice" not only in the tri-state area, but in the U.S. as a whole.
- In the March 2006 issue of New York Construction News, an article written by Michael K. De Chiara titled, "Litigation on K-12 School Projects Troubles Insurers" appeared.
In the March 2006 issue of New York Construction News, an article written by Michael K. De Chiara titled, "Litigation on K-12 School Projects Troubles Insurers" appeared.
- Development New York, September 2005, mentions the appointment of Michael De Chiara to the Overseas Building Operations Industry Advisory panel.
Development New York, September 2005, mentions the appointment of Michael De Chiara to the Overseas Building Operations Industry Advisory panel.
- Occulus, Summer 2005, quotes Michael De Chiara in 2nd Act, an article written by Richard Staub that discusses how the founding principals of architectural firms plan for their succession.
Occulus, Summer 2005, quotes Michael De Chiara in 2nd Act, an article written by Richard Staub that discusses how the founding principals of architectural firms plan for their succession.
- New York Construction, September, 2004, "The Reality of Risk, Design and Construction Industries Creating New Standards for Building Security"
New York Construction, September, 2004, "The Reality of Risk, Design and Construction Industries Creating New Standards for Building Security", By Natalie Keith, Zetlin & De Chiara LLP was mentioned as a sponsor of the seminar entitled "Security and Terrorism: Evolving Standards for the Design, Construction and Real Estate Industries Post 9/11." Michael Zetlin and Michael De Chiara were the moderators of the event that brought to the forefront of the minds of architects, engineers and designers, how their standard of care has changed since September 11, 2001. The panel of speakers included Stephen Colo of SAIC, Robert Selsam of Boston Properties Inc., John Paczkowski of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, John Ulianko, director at the Department of Homeland Security/Immigration and Customs Enforcement, James Kallstrom, Senior advisor to Governor Pataki for counter terrorism and Michael Golden of Marsh.
- N.Y. Times, April 25, 2004, "Metropolitan Desk, New Partners for Architect of Memorial 9/11 Site," By David W. Dunlap
N.Y. Times, April 25, 2004, "Metropolitan Desk, New Partners for Architect of Memorial 9/11 Site," By David W. Dunlap; Michael Arad, architect and designer of the World Trade Center site memorial, has joined Handel Architects in NYC as a partner. Arad and Gary Edward Handel, founding partner, met through Michael K. De Chiara, who represents both.
- Real Estate Weekly, February 11, 2004, No. 26, Vol. 50; Pg. C8; ISSN: 1096-7214, Cuoco leads an all-star cast at Thornton-Tomasetti
Real Estate Weekly, February 11, 2004, No. 26, Vol. 50; Pg. C8; ISSN: 1096-7214, Cuoco leads an all-star cast at Thornton-Tomasetti; Profile in Construction; Michael S. Zetlin, Esq. of Zetlin & De Chiara LLP remarked "On the stand or behind the scenes, their (Thornton-Tomasetti's) keen insight is extremely valuable."
- NY Real Estate Journal, October 28, 2003, "A Discussion Regarding Important Legal Issues in Mold Contamination Cases," By Michael K. De Chiara and Jenifer B. Minsky of Zetlin & De Chiara LLP.
NY Real Estate Journal, October 28, 2003, "A Discussion Regarding Important Legal Issues in Mold Contamination Cases," By Michael K. De Chiara and Jenifer B. Minsky of Zetlin & De Chiara LLP.
- Real Estate Weekly, February 6, 2002, No. 27, Vol. 48; Pg. 14; ISSN: 1096-7214, Zetlin & De Chiara hosts Dec. 12 event
Real Estate Weekly, February 6, 2002, No. 27, Vol. 48; Pg. 14; ISSN: 1096-7214, Zetlin & De Chiara hosts Dec. 12 event. NY construction law firm of Zetlin & De Chiara LLP, hosted its second industry conference, "Managing Firms in Uncertain Times," at The Association of the Bar of the City of NY, hosted by Michael K. De Chiara, Esq.
- 12.12.2001Managing Your Firm in Uncertain TimesNew York Law Journal
New York Law Journal December 12, 2001 Calendar of Coming Events; Pg. 2, 521 words TODAY; Zetlin & De Chiara LLP Conference: "Managing Your Firm in Uncertain Times"
- 12.12.2001Events Seminars Meeting TalksReal Estate Weekly
Real Estate Weekly December 12, 2001 No. 19, Vol. 48; Pg. 25, 892 words EVENTS SEMINARS MEETINGS TALKS; Around the Town; Brief Article, Zetlin & De Chiara LLP Seminar December event is sponsored by Zetlin & De Chiara LLP Counselors at Law, in association with AIA New York State and New York Building Congress.
- Market Braces For Terror ShockEngineering News
Engineering News-Record October 22, 2001 News Site; Vol. 247, No. 17; Pg. 10, 1047 words MARKET BRACES FOR TERROR SHOCK, By William G. Krizan in Salt Lake City with Richard Korman; ''Concepts like negligence have no place when we are attempting to save lives with on-the-spot immediate decisions,'' says Michael De Chiara, a partner in Zetlin & De Chiara LLP, New York City.
- 08.31.2001Marketing For Lawyers
Marketing For Lawyers August 2001 Vol. 15; No. 4; Pg. 10, 1007 words, By Elliot B. Oppenheim; Elliott B. Oppenheim, M.D., J.D., LLM Health Law, I CEO and president of coMEDco Inc., a national medical-legal consultation corporation. Telephone: (800) 416-1192; e-mail coMEDcoINK@aol.com. (c) 2001 Elliott B. Oppenheim and Terra Firma Publishing Co.; The key to putting on a successful seminar is coming up with a timely topic and then getting the details right. New York-based Zetlin & De Chiara LLP deserves kudos on both scores.
Michael K. De Chiara-Zetlin & De Chiara LLP, Moderator, Anthony J. DiBrita, Jr.- Zetlin & De Chiara LLP, Lionel Bejean-Greyling Insurance Brokerage & Risk Consulting, Inc. Peter Koppisch-Willian H. Connolly Co., LLC, Mary Beth Rumple-Poole Professionals, Kevin Viana-Marshall & Sterling Insurance
The panel of insurance experts and attorneys will address insurance coverage and risk management in these uncertain times and how you can take a proactive approach to protecting your business.
Michael De Chiara-Zetlin & De Chiara LLP
Jeremy Butkovich - Shannon & Wilson, Steve DeSimone - DeSimone Consulting Engineers, Leo E. Argiris - Arup, and George Leventis - Langan. Panel in formation.
A New Paradigm for Pre-Construction Engineering Analysis
Recent events in both New York and San Francisco have highlighted a much under-appreciated but enormous risk caused by most large construction projects in dense urban environments.
The effects of major construction projects on adjoining properties are not sufficiently understood. When the unanticipated problems occur they often result in significant damages, which can equal the entire cost of the new project.
The proper analysis of these effects involve advanced geotechnical and structural analysis, often not undertaken in large complex projects.
We will cite several well-known situations which could have been avoided if this new level of pre-construction analysis was undertaken.
- 06.12.2019The Times Center
Michael De Chiara, Moderator
Joe Landolina - Cresilon; Brett Spector - Fesarius Thereapeutics, David McElligot, Petra Pharma; Anna Weber - Kallyope
We invite you to the Second Annual NYC Builds Bio+ Real Estate Development Symposium to examine the progress and potential that New York City has for the life sciences. The Symposium is NYC Builds Bio+’s flagship event and was launched in 2018 as a catalyst for driving targeted life science initiatives in New York City. All proceeds from the Symposium will be dedicated to supporting NYC Builds Bio+, New York’s premier not-for-profit association connecting commercial life science opportunities to the City’s real estate development community.
- 06.12.2019Helmsley Building
Michael De Chiara, Senior Partner, Moderator
- 11.02.2017Michael De Chiara, Moderator
- 10.24.2017Leadership Lunch: Risky Business - What Marketing Leaders Need to Know to Position Their Firms in High-Risk A/E/C EnvironmentMichael De Chiara, Moderator
- 05.31.2017The Union League Club
Michael De Chiara, Moderator
Richard T. Anderson - New York Building; Jay Badame - AECOM Tishman; Sabrina Kanner - Brookfield Properties; Gary LaBarbera - Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York; Steve McGinnis - The New York City C
- 06.2011AIA-ACEC Committee MeetingsZetlin & De Chiara LLP
- 02.2011Insurance Industry Summit
- 05.2010AIA/ACEC Special Advisory Committee Meetings
- The State of the Insurance Industry Managing Risk and Protecting Profitability
- 11.2009The Contractual and Liability Issues of BIM and IPD Webinar
- 10.2009AIA/ACEC Special Advisory Committee Meetings
- 09.2009An Introduction to IPD Seminar Series
- 07.2009Energy to Build New York
- 05.2009AIA/ACEC Special Advisory Committee Meetings
- 05.2009CASE Spring Risk Management Convocation Breakfast: 9/11 Responders and the Structural Risk Involved
- 01.2009The State of the Insurance Industry and Implications for Building New York
- 11.2008The Current Economic Crisis and Its Impact For Regional Construction and Development
- 11.2008AIA/ACEC Special Advisory Committee Meetings
- 09.2008Second Annual Architects and Engineers Expert Retreat: Integrated Project Delivery and BIM
- 08.2008BIM Symposium
- 06.2008AIA/ACEC Special Advisory Committee Meetings
- 12.2007Annual Joint Session on Current Issues for Design Professionals
- 10.2007AIA/ACEC Special Advisory Committee Meetings
- 06.2007Retrofitting Green: Why It Makes (Dollars and) Sense!
- 05.2007Annual Joint Session on Insurance Issues
- 11.2006Annual Joint Session on Insurance Issues
- 10.2006It's a BIM New World—The Next Revolution in Design and Construction Technology
- 10.2005Annual Joint Session on Insurance Issues
- 10.2004Annual Joint Session on Insurance Issues
- 10.2003Annual Joint Session on Insurance Issues
- 05.2003AIA National Conference, "Owner-Drafted Contracts: Sign Here Stupid!"
- 09.2002Water Intrusion and Mold Remediation in New York: Seminar Series
After many years and much effort, New York has finally shed its reputation as being inhospitable to the biotech and life sciences industries, emerging as a leading incubator of firms on the cusp of revolutionizing healthcare and wellness.
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.
- Winter 2016Construction Today
- 11.13.2013Law360 Expert Analysis
- 10.2013Mann Report
- 05.2013Mann Report
- 09.2012Collaboration by Contract: The Legal Side of Integrated Project DeliveryZetlin & De Chiara Review
- 02.2012Interview with the PresidentsZetlin & De Chiara LLP Review
- 05.2011Arc Tunnel Project – Westway RevisitedReal Estate Weekly
- 2010Foreign Employment Issues for the UnwaryQuarterly Review, Zetlin & De Chiara LLP
- 2008When the Crane Collapses: From the Owner's PerspectiveQuarterly Review, Zetlin & De Chiara LLP
- 2006BIM: The Professional and Legal Ramifications - A Voyage into the UnknownQuarterly Review, Zetlin & De Chiara LLP
- 2006An Interview with David J. BresnahanQuarterly Review, Zetlin & De Chiara LLP
- 2003New York Construction LawAspen Publishers
- American Council of Engineering Companies of New York— General Counsel; Member, Legal Counsel Forum
- American Institute of Architects New York State — General Counsel
- AIA – ACEC/NY Special Advisory Committees — Chairman
- New York Building Foundation — Board Member/General Counsel
- New York Landmarks Conservancy — Board of Directors
- New York Building Congress — Member, Energy; Healthcare; Planning, Growth & Sustainability; Public Building & Procurement; and Transportation & Infrastructure Committees
- Society of American Military Engineers
- Real Estate Board of New York
- Construction Management Association of America
- American Bar Association — Member, Construction Industry Forum
- New York City Bar Association
- New York State Bar Association
- Cornell University
Vanderbilt University, J.D.
Columbia University, Graduate Program Architecture
SUNY at Stony Brook, M.S.
SUNY at Stony Brook, B.E.M.E. Mechanical Engineering
- New York
- New Jersey
- U.S. District Court, New York
- U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York
- U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York
- U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York