Biography Photo of Joseph W DeLave

Joseph W. DeLave

Of Counsel
Joseph W. DeLave focuses his law practice on Construction and Real Estate matters. For over 30 years, Mr. DeLave has represented owners and contractors in a variety of construction matters. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America for Construction Law. Mr. DeLave has extensive experience litigating a wide array of construction claims and disputes that have ranged from simple construction issues to complex commercial and municipal projects involving breach of contract, payment, lien, bonding, construction defects, defaults, terminations, delays, differing site conditions, and builder’s trust violations. In his capacity as counsellor, Mr. DeLave assists his clients with project level claims analysis, claim preservation and avoidance counseling. He is also highly skilled at negotiating and drafting both commercial and residential contracts for owners and contractors including design, construction and design/build contracts. In addition to his construction practice, Mr. DeLave has served as counsel for condemning authorities in right of way condemnation matters under eminent domain and lenders in the foreclosure of commercial properties and workouts.

Mr. DeLave serves on the Legal Advisory Committee for the Greater Detroit Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America, is a member of the Detroit Area Contractor’s Association, and is a certified mediator specializing in construction disputes.

Education & Credentials


University of Notre Dame

B.A., 1984
  • with honors

University of Notre Dame School of Law

J.D., 1987
  • Administrative Editor, Journal of Legislation, 1986-1987

Bar Admission

  • Michigan1987


  • Best Lawyers in America®
    • Litigation-Construction, 2013-2021

Representative Clients

  • Adient plc
  • Beaumont Hospital
  • Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership
  • Eyde Company
  • FCA Realty LLC
  • G2 Consulting
  • JCU International, Inc.
  • Magna International Inc. and subsidiaries
  • MGM Grand Detroit, LLC
  • MICCO Construction, LLC
  • National Construction Enterprises, Inc.
  • Oakland County Water Resource Commissioner
  • Pontiac Ceiling & Partition, LLC
  • Value City Furniture
  • Uniprop AM, LLC

Prominent Assignments

Represented auto maker in defense of a multi-million dollar “cumulative” impact claim asserted by the contractor for the renovation of a facility in Lincoln Park, Michigan.

Defended contractor claims and prosecution of professional negligence claims for a municipality arising from an underground tunnel collapse and 100-year flood during construction of a CSO project.

Represented contractor in the prosecution of claims against the project’s architect/engineer arising from the design of a 150 room hotel, conference center and parking garage in Bay City, Michigan.

Defended major insurance company against delay and impact claims asserted by the contractor and several subcontractors in connection with company’s expansion of its downtown Detroit facilities.

Represented electrical contractor in litigation concerning application of a statutory exemption from the Electrical Administrative Act, with trial court victory affirmed by the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Represented contractor in connection with dispute involving contractor and its surety arising from the design and erection of a tensile roof structure in Pontiac, Michigan.

Represented major Detroit area hospital in connection with the negotiation and drafting of contract to expand and improve its facilities in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

Prepared construction contracts for the developer of a project involving the construction of private garages and a performance race track in Pontiac, Michigan.

Represented energy pipeline and operators regarding acquisition of right of way and permit issues for utility corridors.

Represented auto maker in connection with a contract dispute involving extra claims arising out of the construction of a paint shop in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

Represented international garnet manufacturer in connection with a permit dispute with local building department in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania.

Member of the contract review committee for the City of Detroit Downtown Development Authority in connection with the construction of Detroit's stadia, Comerica Park and Ford Field.

Professional Involvement

  • Associated General Contractors of America
  • Legal Advisory Committee of the Greater Detroit Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America
  • State Bar of Michigan, Real Property and Litigation Sections
  • Macomb County Bar Association
  • Oakland County Bar Association
  • Federal Bar Association, Eastern District of Michigan
  • American Bar Association, Forum on Construction Law
  • Certified Civil Mediator

Community Involvement

  • Notre Dame Club of Detroit
    • Board of Directors
    • Past President (1997-1998)
    • Award of the Year (2007)
  • Lourdes Senior Community
    • Former Chairman, Development Committee
    • Former Chairman, Clausen Manor Committee (Alzheimer's facility)
    • Member, Future Phases Ad Hoc Committee
  • DeLaSalle Collegiate High School
    • Alumni Class Representative


  • Presenter, "Construction Defect Litigation: From A to Z," National Business Institute (April 2013), including presentation on the indemnity obligations of subcontractors and design professions in the AIA standard form agreements and ConsensusDOCS
  • Author, Information Alert, Managing Financial Risk During Construction (2012)
  • Author, Information Alert, Recommended Contracting Requirements for Contractors (2012)
  • Presenter, "The Contract for Construction: Standard Forms and Common Risk Transferring Provisions," Greater Detroit Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America Webinar (January 20, 2010)
  • Co-Presenter, "Owner Internal Controls Critical to Subcontractor Selection, Buy Out, and Changes," Grant Thornton/Dickinson Wright Webinar (October 29, 2009)
  • Contributing author, Chapter 8, "Selecting the Correct Delivery System, Contractor, and Structure of the Owner/Contractor Relationship, A Practitioner’s Guide to Construction Law," (ALI-ABA 2009 Supplement)
  • Author, Chapter 1, "The Contract for Construction: Standard Forms and Common Risk Transferring Provisions, A Contractor’s Guide to Michigan Construction Law," published by the Greater Detroit Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America (2005; updated and republished 2009)
  • Presenter, "An Introduction to the New Family of Construction Documents: The CONSENSUSDOCS," Dickinson Wright Annual Construction Law Forum (October, 2008)
  • Presenter, "Effective Contract Negotiations," sponsored by the Greater Detroit Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America (April, 2006)
  • Co-Presenter, "Cumulative Impact Claims," sponsored by the Real Property Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan, Breakfast Roundtable (November, 2005)
  • Co-Presenter, "Insurance Requirements for Contractors," with John C. Hurley and Daniel J. Osterbaan of Marsh USA, Inc., sponsored by the Greater Detroit Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America (March, 2005)
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