Noble, Wickersham & Heart LLP lawyers have unequalled experience in all facets of legal services related to designing and building projects.  We provide general counsel services to architects, landscape architects, and other members of the design and construction teams – from negotiating contracts to ensuring compliance with registration laws, restructuring firm ownership and governance, and disputes and risk management. We represent over 200 design firms around the United States and have advised on projects in over 25 foreign countries and we represent foreign design firms on projects in the United States.

We also have expertise in cost-effective dispute resolution. We help clients settle problems informally as well as represent them in mediations and other alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedures. We are available to act as ADR neutrals in disputes involving design and construction issues for parties other than our clients.

Noble, Wickersham & Heart LLP lawyers are active in important practice trends affecting the future of the design and construction industries. Chris Noble and Bennet Heart are involved in several national industry groups developing new contract models to accommodate Building Information Modeling (BIM), integrated practice, and project alliancing. Jay Wickersham served on an AIA International Committee Task Force to develop best practices for offshore outsourcing.

The life cycle of a project

Every project is different, but we are familiar with the legal issues that are likely to come up on major projects, including the complex and high-profile projects where our clients are often key participants. We help our clients anticipate and solve problems, protect their professional and financial interests, manage their risks, and resolve disputes as quickly and reasonably as possible.

Pursuing the job
• Reviewing contract language in Requests For Proposals
• Dealing with public designer-selection and bid laws
• Satisfying inter-state registration requirements
• Considering joint ventures or other strategic alliances
• Drafting and negotiating pre-selection teaming agreements

Securing the job
• Negotiating the owner’s contract with the designer, contractor, construction manager, or design/builder (using AIA or ConsensusDocs forms, owner-generated alternatives, our own forms, or a customized form)
• Defining and documenting relations between design architects and production (or architect of record) architects
• Drafting contracts with subconsultants and subcontractors
• Anticipating problems and addressing dispute resolution, project partnering, insurance, and risk management

While the job proceeds
• Reviewing other contracts on the project as they may affect our clients
• Assisting in development of BIM contract addenda and execution plans
• Reviewing and negotiating certificates to lenders and public agencies
• Advising on public bidding requirements, including the Massachusetts filed sub-bid laws
• Advising on major additional services and change order issues
If the job goes sour
• Resolving payment disputesand advising on lien rights
• Providing preliminary claim adviceand strategies for settlement
• Dealing with insurers, sureties, lenders, and other interested parties
• Representing clients in informal negotiations and formal mediations
• Coordinating with claims counsel in arbitrations and lawsuits
• Protecting copyright and project credits

Working abroad
• Identifying and resolving professional registration and other international practice issues
• Drafting, reviewing, and negotiating FIDIC, RIBA, and other international contract forms
• Identifying, engaging, and coordinating with local legal counsel and other in-country advisers
• Dealing with tax treaties, payment and performance security, currency exchange, and similar issues
• Designing and managing international dispute resolution procedures

The life cycle of a firm

We provide general counsel services to our design and construction clients, from the creation of a firm through the challenges of growth, ownership transitions, and mergers and acquisitions. Unlike many lawyers, we understand and attend to the special considerations – professional, personal, and aesthetic – that affect both the business and the culture of design and construction firms and their principals and employees.

The new firm
• Choosing the form of entity: corporation, LLC, or partnership
• Drafting and filing firm corporate and licensing documents
• Assembling and coordinating a team of accountants, legal specialists, insurers, and other advisors

The growing firm
• Developing a strategy for inter-state registrations, and setting up affiliates and subsidiariesto comply with the varied requirements in each state
• Creating form contracts
• Advising on insurance and other risk management issues
• Formalizing employment agreements, policies, and benefits
• Maintaining internal governance records and governmental registrations

The evolving firm
• Addressing the full range of issues related to transferring ownership to a new generation(establishing valuation, adding stockholders, addressing personal, professional, and management challenges)
• Advising on mergers, acquisitions, and break-ups

If our clients require legal advice in areas such as tax, estate planning, or litigation, we arrange for cost-effective relationships with expert lawyers in other firms who specialize in these areas and with whom we have worked closely. We have similar close relationships with specialized accountants, management consultants, and marketing professionals. We play the central role in providing customized services to meet each client’s legal needs.

Noble, Wickersham & Heart LLP Design and Construction Lawyers:

Chris Noble has over 45 years of legal experience representing architects and other design professionals working in the US and abroad. A graduate of Yale Law School, Chris chaired the Construction Law Practice Group at the Boston law firm of Hill & Barlow before co-founding Noble & Wickersham (now, Noble, Wickersham & Heart) in 2003. (Click here for full bio).

Jay Wickersham, FAIA, represents architects nationally and internationally and teaches at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and serves as general counsel of the Boston Society of Architects. Jay holds both law and architecture degrees from Harvard. (Click here for full bio).

Bennet Heart served as General Counsel for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. Bennet, a graduate of George Washington University Law School, brings broad experience in environmental and land use law to enhance his construction law practice. (Click here for full bio).

Barbara Landau has over 25 years experience in environmental and land use law and urban planning. She holds a law degree from Northeastern University and a masters degree in City and Regional Planning from Harvard University. (Click here for full bio).

Catherine Redmond is an experienced environmental attorney who joined Noble, Wickersham & Heart in 2015. She came to the firm after having served for over ten years as in-house counsel for the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, one of California’s largest environmental agencies. (Click here for full bio)

Curtis Connors joined Noble Wickersham & Heart in 2021.  Curt has practiced environmental law for over 20 years, providing guidance, creative solutions, and key litigation/mediation outcomes to clients.  Curt also represents architects, engineers, and other design professionals (surveyors, landscape architects, interior designers) in all areas of their practice. (Click here for full bio)

Contact Information: 
General:  617-491-9800
Fax:  617-491-9818
Chris Noble | 617-777-4814|
Jay Wickersham | 617-491-9815 |
Bennet Heart | 617-491-9820 |
Barbara Landau | 617-491-9822 |
Catherine Redmond | 617-491-9821 |
Curt Connors | 617-491-9816 |



Robert A.M. SternArchitects DillerScofidio+Renfro                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates
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Elkus/Manfredi Architects
Henning Larsen
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Goody Clancy & Associates
Perry Dean Rogers|Partners
GUND Partnership
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Reed Hilderbrand Associates
OLIN Studio
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Tsoi / Kobus & Associates


Christopher L. Noble and Jay Wickersham, “The Risks and Rewards of Pursuing International Opportunities,” 2010 DiCicco Gulman Architectural Study (contact N&W for a copy).

Christopher L. Noble, “Controlling Intellectual Property,” in Building (in) The Future: Recasting Labor in Architecture, eds. Peggy Deamer and Phillip G. Bernstein (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2010).

Christopher L. Noble and Bennet Heart, Massachusetts Chapter in The Design-Build Deskbook, Fourth Edition, eds. Kerry L. Kester et al.  (Chicago: ABA Publishing, 2010).

Christopher L. Noble and Bennet Heart, “The AIA’s New Digital Documents,” The Construction Lawyer, Volume 28, No. 2 (Spring 2008).

Jay Wickersham, “Learning from Burnham: The Origins of Modern Architectural Practice,” Harvard Design Magazine (Spring / Summer 2010). PDF

Christopher L. Noble, “Can Project Alliancing Agreements Change the Way We Build?” Architectural Record, July 2007.

Christopher L. Noble, “Construction Law”, with Heather G. Merrill, in Gould and Joyce, Construction Project Management, Professional ed. (2002).

Christopher L. Noble, “The AIA General Conditions in the Digital Age: Does The Square ‘New Technology’ Peg Fit into The Round A201 Hole?”, with Richard Alexander and Steven Stein, Construction Contracts Law Report (2001)

Christopher L. Noble, “Don’t Leave Home Without It: A Strategy for Complying with Interstate Architectural Practice Rules,” Under Construction (2001)

Christopher L. Noble, “The Design/Builder–A/E Contract: A Comparison of Standard Forms,” The Construction Lawyer, (2001)