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 35 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 is highly skilled at negotiating and drafting commercial and residential contracts for owners (both private and public) including design, construction and design/build. An experienced litigator, he also has prosecuted and defended lawsuits involving a wide array of construction claims and disputes including 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. 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 School of Law

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

University of Notre Dame

B.A., 1984
  • with honors

Bar Admission

  • Michigan1987


  • DBusiness Magazine
    • "Top Lawyers," Construction Law, 2023
  • The Legal 500 United States
    • Real Estate Law, 2022
  • Best Lawyers in America®
    • Litigation-Construction, 2013-2023
  • Martindale-Hubbell Rating® AV Preeminent® Rating

Representative Clients

  • Academy Development Partners LLC
  • Adient plc
  • Battle Green Holdings, LLC
  • Blue Line Foodservice Distributors, Inc.
  • Covenant Medical Center, Inc.
  • D & G Building Company
  • Emerald Growth Partners, LLC
  • Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership
  • Eyde Company
  • FCA Realty LLC
  • G2 Consulting
  • GMA Garnet Group
  • Grand Trunk Western Railroad Company
  • MGM Grand Detroit, LLC
  • National Construction Enterprises, Inc.
  • Natrabis
  • Northwestern Technological Institute
  • Oakland County Water Resource Commissioner
  • Pontiac Ceiling & Partition, LLC
  • Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems, Inc.
  • Uniprop AM, LLC
  • Value City Furniture
  • Warrior Design & Construction

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 involving hundreds of parcels for the Line 6B project from the Michigan – Indiana border to the Port Huron crossing to Canada.

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 and cost overrun claims arising from the construction of a super garnet processing plant in Coos Bay, Oregon.

Prepared construction contracts for owner in connection with the development and construction of a new 20 story mixed use commercial development in Detroit, Michigan.

Prepared construction contract for owner in connection with the development and construction of a branded hotel, for sale condominiums and multi-family residential project in Nashville, Tennessee.

Defended developer against extra and inefficiency claims filed by general contractor and one of its subcontractors arising from the renovation of a historical hi-rise building in Toledo, Ohio.

Continuing representation of hospital in connection with the negotiation and preparation of contracts for new construction and renovation projects in Saginaw, Michigan.

Continuing representation of developer in connection with the design and construction of hotel and restaurant projects in Florida, Michigan, and other states.

Counsel to cannabis growers in connection with the design and construction of grow and dispensary facilities.

Professional Involvement

  • Associated General Contractors of America
  • Legal Advisory Committee of the Greater Detroit Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America
  • Detroit Area Contractor's Association
  • State Bar of Michigan, Real Property and Litigation Sections
  • Macomb County Bar Association
  • Oakland County Bar Association
  • 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 Member of Board of Directors 
    • Former Chairman, Development Committee
    • Former Chairman, Clausen Manor Committee (Alzheimer's facility)
    • Former Member, Future Phases Ad Hoc Committee
  • DeLaSalle Collegiate High School
    • Alumni Class Representative
    • Pilot Bar Association
      • Past President (2019-2020)
      • Board Member
      • Mentorship Committee Chair
  • Lake Metamora Association
    • Vice President and Board Member


  • Presenter, “Killer Contract Clauses – What to look for and Counter Strategies to Mitigate Your Risk,” AGC March Madness: Construction Law Virtual Seminar (March 16, 2022)
  • 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 and 2022)
  • Presenter, "An Introduction to the New Family of Construction Documents: The CONSENSUSDOCS," Dickinson Wright Annual Construction Law Forum (October, 2008)
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