James J. Urban is a Shareholder practicing in Butzel ’s Lansing office and serves as the Managing Shareholder of the Lansing Office and Manager of the Firm’s State Capitol Practice Group. He is a graduate of Michigan State University (B.A., 1977) and the Thomas M. Cooley Law School (J.D., cum laude, 1982).
Mr. Urban has concentrated his practice in the representation of infrastructure contractors and their trade associations for over 25 years. He has extensive experience representing infrastructure contractors in the public and private sectors in a wide variety of challenges facing those contractors ranging from being part of contractor bidding teams, to claims recognition, claims avoidance and claims development during the construction process, claims prosecution in the administrative process and in the state and federal courts and arbitration, competitive bidding disputes, Federal False Claims Act investigations, construction liens, surety matters and performance and payment bond claims on state, municipal and federal projects, public utility disputes and contract drafting and negotiation. He has handled and resolved construction disputes throughout Michigan and in Indiana, Ohio, Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas, Kansas, Texas and Canada for the infrastructure contractor clients of the Firm. Mr. Urban has also served as an arbitrator and as a mediator in construction disputes on both public and private projects.
His experience in representing construction industry trade associations is equally broad and has put him at the forefront of significant developments affecting the infrastructure construction industry in Michigan over the past 20 years including successfully representing a coalition of industry associations challenging MDOT’s attempt to implement performance warranties in Michigan; serving as lead counsel in the historic merger of the Michigan Road Builders Association and the Associated Underground Contractors Association to form the Michigan Transportation and Infrastructure Association (MITA); serving as lead counsel in the formation of the Michigan Paving Association (MPA) and as lead counsel in the subsequent merger of MPA and the Michigan Asphalt Paving Association to form the Asphalt Paving Association of Michigan (APAM); serving as lead counsel in the formation of the Michigan Damage Prevention Board (MDPB, a cooperative venture between Michigan’s major public utilities and the infrastructure construction industry) and negotiating and drafting the MDPB Best Practices Contract between the major public utilities and the infrastructure construction industry represented by MITA; he was the principal drafter of the initial version of Michigan’s new MISS DIG Act (enacted November, 2104); successfully representing two contractors and MITA in litigation challenging MDOT’s and FHWA’s enforcement of the Prompt Payment Regulation and then serving as industry lead counsel in the cooperative effort between industry and MDOT in the redrafting of the Prompt Payment Regulation and enforcement guidelines for MDOT federally assisted construction contracts.
He is a frequent speaker on public works contracting and construction law at construction industry events and has published numerous articles on those subjects. He has served as industry counsel to the government-industry committee involved in the redrafting of MDOT’s Standard Specifications for Construction, 1996, 2003 and 2012 Editions.
Mr. Urban is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, the ABA Construction Law Forum, the Ingham County Bar Association and a former member of the Michigan Prosecuting Attorneys Association. He is admitted to practice in the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and in the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan. Prior to entering private practice, he was an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Livingston County, Michigan.
Mr. Urban has been listed in Michigan Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America for Construction Litigation, 2007 – 2022 and was named Lansing Construction Litigation Law Lawyer of the Year in 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2022 by Best Lawyers. He has also been listed in DBusiness Top Lawyers in Metro Detroit, Construction Litigation, 2014, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Michigan State University 1977, B.A.
Thomas Cooley Law School 1982, J.D.
- State Bar of Michigan - Construction Law Committee and the Administrative Law Section
- American Bar Association - Construction Law Forum and Administrative Law Section
- Ingham County Bar Association
- Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan - past member
- MITA/MDOT Committee member
Awards & Recognitions
Awards & Recognitions
Best Lawyers in America, "Lawyer of the Year," Litigation - Construction, 2013 & 2014, 2016-2018, 2022, 2023
The Best Lawyers in America, Construction Law; Litigation - Construction, 2007-2023
Michigan Super Lawyers, Construction Litigation, 2007-2022
DBusiness Top Lawyers in Metro Detroit, Construction Litigation, 2014, 2017-2021
- Has successfully represented infrastructure contractors and subcontractors in connection with private works projects involving delay, interference and extra/changed work disputes and prosecution of construction lien foreclosure claims throughout Michigan.
- Successfully represented joint venture contractor in the negotiated resolution of delay and acceleration claims exceeding $1M primarily arising out of defective design and interference issues on a complex road and sewer reconstruction project.
- Has successfully represented contractors and subcontractors in numerous delay, acceleration, Differing Site Conditions, extra work, defective and warranty work, and contract interpretation disputes with MDOT in the administrative claims review process.
- Successfully prosecuted administrative appeals to preclude awards to second bidders on three MDOT construction contracts totaling more than $14M.
- Successfully represented subcontractor in prosecution of Miller Act Payment Bond claim in connection with USAF airfield reconstruction project in Kansas.
- Successfully represented prime contractor in resolution of warranty disputes and subcontractor disputes on a major freeway reconstruction project for the Indiana Department of Transportation.
- Successfully represented prime contractor and subcontractor in recovering $1.5M claim for extra work on a MDOT bridge reconstruction contract.
- Successfully represented prime and subcontractor in prosecution of multi-million dollar delay claims on a Michigan Department of Transportation construction project.
- Successfully represented the joint venture prime contractor in the resolution of all claims without litigation on a $120M, four year construction project at a major Michigan airport.
- Successfully represented prime contractors and subcontractors in resolution of federal and local false claim act investigations on multiple projects at major airports in Michigan and Tennessee.
- Successfully represented prime contractor in resolution of multi-million dollar delay claim on Texas Department of Transportation Project.
- Successfully represented the industry in halting the announced “non-public opening of bid” on a $120M site civil construction project at a major Michigan airport and procuring the re-advertisement of the project providing for full competitive bidding.
- Has successfully represented construction industry trade associations in resolution of matters affecting the transportation infrastructure construction industry in Michigan.
- Successfully represented prime contractor in warranty work dispute on an airport pavement rehabilitation project in Florida.
- Successfully represented performance bond surety in obtaining a No Cause of Action in a complex case involving the construction of an off shore water intake facility on the bottom of Lake Michigan.
- Represented prevailing contractor in a Conflict Resolution Team proceeding involving significant warranty work claim by MDOT.
News & Events
- Firm News, 8.18.2022
- Firm News, 8.12.2022
- DBusiness Magazine, 11.26.2018
Alerts & Publications