Small firms and sole proprietors with many questions but limited resources often wish for a convenient and cost-effective way to get the risk management assistance that they need to make important decisions. Practice Coach is a new AIA Trust member benefit service, based on the former LegaLine, that offers members access to qualified professionals who can help identify and manage risks while minimizing claims – whether dealing with clients, contractors, employees, or others.
Small architecture firms encounter many challenges similar to those of large firms. These challenges arise when negotiating and interpreting contracts, handling disputes with clients and contractors, and a myriad of other circumstances where risk management guidance and practical information may be needed.
How Practice Coach can help
Practice Coach is geared especially to smaller firms who have questions or concerns about their business but may not be ready to engage legal counsel. Practice Coach does not provide legal advice but does offer real-world suggestions and insight pertinent to the architectural practice. This includes helping one determine whether to hire a lawyer in a specific situation. Ultimately, the goal of Practice Coach is to help small firms to manage their risks and potentially minimize the impact of claims and lawsuits.
Some of the areas where small firms turn to Practice Coach include:
- Incorporating one’s practice;
- Collecting overdue or disputed fees;
- Transferring firm ownership;
- Functionality of the AIA Contract Documents and other agreements;
- Structuring effective and collaborative joint ventures;
- Considering options when hiring or firing an employee.
It is important for architects to recognize the traps and pitfalls in their practice to avoid legal difficulties. Instead, as architects you can increase profits by focusing on the business of architecture. Your Practice Coach annual subscription comes with unlimited, prompt access to professionals who can help you foresee and possibly minimize costly and destructive legal problems, allowing you to stay focused on design and running your firm. First-time subscribers are eligible for an introductory rate and brand-new AIA members can receive a free six-month subscription. Plan benefits and annual fees are detailed on the AIA Trust website. Practice Coach is available exclusively to AIA members and AIA components only.
AIA Components can subscribe
Components may also subscribe to Practice Coach to offer their members the benefit. A component subscription entitles the component to a block of calls equivalent to what a firm would use and component staff may call or may direct members to call Practice Coach toll free. (When a member’s firm has ongoing issues, an individual subscription is suggested.)
More about Practice Coach
Responses to Practice Coach inquiries are led by Peter Stacy, Esq. and Jacqueline Pons-Bunney, Esq., both of whom have extensive experience in a wide range of issues involving complex A/E and construction matters. Stacy and Pons-Bunney are Partners at the law firm of Weil & Drage, APC, which offers extensive contract creation and negotiations for multi-million and multi-billion-dollar projects, claims during the course of the design and construction of projects, contract negotiations, litigation, trial, and appellate services. The attorneys at Weil & Drage, APC, have represented design professionals, contractors, manufacturers, and owners in a wide variety of actions, ranging from simple lien actions to multi-million dollar private and public works construction cases and single-family residential projects collectively for decades.