Building blocks

Spartan grad focuses on construction law

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Whenever Iraq appears on the news, it brings back memories for Brandon Booth, who was involved with a utility project in that country.

"We represented a U.S. contractor and the contract negotiations were extensive," says Booth, an attorney at Howard & Howard Attorneys in Royal Oak. "The end user was the Iraqi government, the project was going to be owned by a developer from Abu Dhabi, the prime contractor was from London, and we represented a U.S. based contractor that was going to build a portion of the facility.

"Unfortunately, after signing a contract and a year of engineering work, our client was forced to pull out of the project prior to construction actually starting, but the experience I gained negotiating and drafting the contracts is something I'll never forget."

Booth, who concentrates his practice in corporate law and business transactions, has a particular focus in construction, a passion from an early age. After spending time in high school researching the actual roles of different parties in the construction industry, and briefly considering architecture, he decided on construction as a career.

After determining that Michigan State University had one of the top programs in construction management, he earned his undergrad degree in Spartan territory.

"What I liked most about construction was the step-by-step planning," he explains. "We would start with nothing and have to figure out the most efficient way to build something."

While at MSU, Booth spent a year working for the University's Campus Planning and Administration department, where he assisted with the preparation and modifications of design service and construction management contracts.

After graduation, he held a position as a project engineer for three years with Barton Malow Co., a national general contractor, where he managed various aspects of bond programs for Southfield, Birmingham, and Grosse Pointe school districts. His work that included providing school district administrations with budget monitoring, analysis, and project estimates, and negotiating various delay and scope related claims was experience that would prove extremely useful in his legal career.

At the urging of his father to pursue a graduate degree, Booth thought back to the MSU Campus Planning and Administration department, where his boss Jack Mumma, was an attorney with a degree from DePaul University College of Law.

"Jack didn't really practice law in his position at MSU but he was one of the smartest people I'd ever been around," Booth says. "I thought law school worked out well for him and he didn't practice law so I was hopeful, it would do the same for me."

While at the time Booth had no desire to practice law, he preferred the idea of law school to joining what seemed to be an overcrowded field of MBA students. The decision was firmed up when his LSAT scores landed him a scholarship to Cooley Law School where he started evening classes and studied part-time while working full time for Barton Malow, Attending the Oakland University campus, that later became the Auburn Hills campus, he earned his J.D. cum laude.

Prior to his final semester, Booth received some excellent advice from his now partner, Michael Beals.

"He told me I could always go back to construction, but if I didn't try private practice right after law school, that door would likely shut so I tried private practice. While it was a very hard decision to leave Barton Malow, private practice has worked out very well," he says.

Very well indeed Booth, who joined Howard & Howard three years ago, after spending the first two years of his legal career at another local firm, was named among Michigan Rising Stars, 2012-14 and to dbusiness Top Lawyers, 2013 and 2014.

According to Booth, his experience working full time prior to practicing law has been a huge asset, contributing to his broad experience in corporate organization and compliance, mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, and contract matters.

"My construction experience certainly helps me understand the subject matter and industry terms but more than anything, I think my prior work experience allows me to keep business considerations in mind when advising clients," he says.

Representing both buyers and sellers in mergers and acquisitions, a portion of his current work is devoted to representing a German holding company that owns businesses in the U.S., and is always looking to acquire more.

"The client does not have a large staff in the U.S. and heavily relies on us," he explains. "I serve as outside general counsel so in addition to the M & A activity, I really get to assist with a lot of day-today matters."

In his leisure time, Booth enjoys golf, spending time with his family, reading about military history, and sports, particularly Spartan football. He also gives back to MSU by serving on their construction management alumni advisory board.

Published: Mon, Apr 20, 2015

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