Mark A. Rysberg is an attorney with Hilger Hammond representing clients in matters of construction law and commercial litigation. He has tried cases in numerous state courts, state appellate courts, federal trial courts, federal bankruptcy courts and federal appellate courts.
What makes you unique as a lawyer?
As far as I can tell, I am the only construction attorney that is a licensed builder, has a degree in construction management, has owned and operated companies that performed construction work, and have managed construction projects. With my pre-attorney experience I have dealt with many of the same issues our clients face, such as being involved in lawsuits, processing claims, running a business, etc.
What impacts have you seen to the construction industry due to COVID-19?
There is no shortage of ways that COVID-19 has impacted the construction industry. Perhaps the biggest impact has been the uncertainty that has resulted. Every project participant has experienced this. Project owners are uncertain about their financial modeling and the overall project feasibility in light of the fast-changing nature of this situation coupled with the fact that a project can last months or even years. Contractors and subcontractors are concerned about the uncertainty that exists with respect to their backlog and the prospects for future bidding opportunities. Lenders and sureties are expressing concern about credit risk due to uncertainty about borrowers’ ability to operate successfully in light of ever-changing operational restrictions directed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. Frankly, there has yet to be an uptick in bankruptcies or litigation as a result of COVID-19. This appears to be a result of most of these issues being addressed through strategic management decisions.
Describe one of the more memorable cases that you’ve worked on.
This is not one case per se, but the Lamar bankruptcy-related issues were certainly memorable. What struck me about that situation were the events that led to Lamar’s bankruptcy and the resulting fallout. To me, the common theme to the situation was that not doing simple things (such as getting change orders signed and issuing notices of furnishing) can lead to catastrophic results.
How do you describe your role as a general counsel for businesses?
This is a broad role. In general, my role is to apply my knowledge as a construction attorney with my practical experience running several companies and constructing commercial buildings to provide my clients with general advice focused on practical solutions. Sometimes, this involves keeping or helping clients get out of difficult situations. Other times it is more focused on improving internal operations, maximizing profit margin and cash flow, and risk management.
What is the first thing you ever built in shop class?
A popsicle stick bridge that we put weights on to see how strong it was.
It’s a weekend in the Summer, where will we find you?
Ideally, fishing offshore in Key Largo, Florida.
What else would you like people to know about you?
My kids and I built a wood boat (14′ long rowboat) from marine plywood and fiberglass. A second boat (12′ center console) is underway.