Joseph A. Barra


  • Overview


    Joseph Barra is a member of the firm’s Construction Group. With skills gained in his first career as a civil engineer, he has represented clients in the construction industry for over 25 years. He advises his clients on issues such as design and construction flaws and delays, funding disputes, certification hearings, and violations involving the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Organization (OSHA).

    Mr. Barra’s practice includes clients from all areas of the design and construction industry:

    • public and private owners, and developers
    • design professionals
    • general contractors; construction managers; subcontractors; material suppliers; engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractors; design-builders; and MBE/WBE/DBE contractors
    • sureties and construction lenders

    Contract Procurement and Project Delivery

    Mr. Barra has a thorough understanding of transactional matters involving the design and construction of the following:

    • hospitals
    • shopping malls and retail
    • highways and airports
    • condominiums and residential
    • utilities (water, gas, electric, fiber optic, and sewer)
    • primary and secondary schools, and universities
    • wastewater facilities, water and scavenger waste treatment facilities, and waste-to-energy facilities
    • landfill gas-to-energy facilities, gas-fired electrical power plants, hydroelectric dams, onshore and offshore natural gas pipelines, and electric substations

    He is well versed in negotiating complex design, construction, and project management-related agreements. Mr. Barra also understands the complexities of public-private partnerships (P3), and assists clients from financing through operation on P3 projects.

    Dispute Resolution

    When disputes do arise, Mr. Barra works jointly with his clients to pinpoint problems and issues, determine the best route forward, and offer solutions to strengthen the client’s business position. He is also a long-standing member of American Arbitration Association’s (AAA) National Panel of Construction Neutrals, so he approaches disputes with his experience as a seasoned arbitrator. He has served as an advocate in many arbitrations, mediations, and trials.

    Mr. Barra has presented and written articles on wide-ranging topics involving construction law, in particular in the areas of Building Information Modeling (BIM), public-private partnerships, risk management, and alternative dispute resolution. He is active in many construction industry groups, including the Construction Industries of Massachusetts (CIM); the Construction Management Association of America, New England Chapter; the Massachusetts Building Congress; and the Boston Society of Civil Engineers Section.

  • Experience
    • Experience


        Contract Procurement and Project Delivery

      • Representation of an airport authority in a construction bid protest for a $59 million runway construction project in which the airport authority was using a design-build procurement scheme. Project delivery was time critical because of FAA grant funding. Robinson+Cole was successful in opposing the protestors motion to delay project award.

      • Acted as construction counsel for an affiliate of the Trellis Group in its negotiation and execution of a guaranteed maximum price contract with Hamilton Construction on the 1486 Tremont project in Boston's Mission Hill neighborhood. This mixed-use infill project of 66 apartments and 6,200 square feet of ground floor retail uses and accessory off-street parking is within walking distance of the Roxbury Crossing stop on the MBTA's Orange Line. 

    • Professional Associations

      Professional Associations

      Construction Management Association of America
      National Board of Directors

      Construction Management Association of America, New England Chapter
      Board of Directors

      Design-Build Institute of America, New England Region
      Board of Directors

      Massachusetts Building Congress
      Board of Directors

      Massachusetts Society of Professional Engineers
      Past Director and Secretary

      Associated General Contractors of America, Massachusetts Chapter
      Past Director

      American Society of Civil Engineers

      American Arbitration Association
      National Panel of Construction Neutrals
    • Publications


      "When is a Breach of Contract really a Breach of Contract?" co-authored with Jonathan E. Small, published in BSCES News, a publication of the Boston Society of Civil Engineers Section/ASCE (May 2018)
      • » more info
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      "Building Information Modeling: Now that you know how to spell BIM, is it right for you and your project?" (2012)

      "Are You Ready for the New Massachusetts Prompt Pay Act?" published in Construction Management Association of America's New England Chapter Newsletter (Winter 2011)

      "Massachusetts Design Professionals Now File a Lien for Unpaid Design-Phase Services," published in the newsletter of the Construction Management Association of America, New England Chapter (Fall 2011)

      "So You're Going to Be an Expert Witness...Part III – Cross Examination," published in ACEC Insights (1/2011)

      "So You're Going to Be an Expert Witness...Part II – Direct Examination," published in ACEC Insights (6/2010)

      "So You're Going to Be an Expert Witness...," published in ACEC Insights (3/2010)

      State by State Guide to Architect, Engineer & Contractor Licensing (Massachusetts Chapter)

    • Presentations


      "Building Information Modeling (BIM) Contract Form," at Massachusetts Integrated BIM Approach (MBIA)'s session focusing on contract language adjustments (6/16/2016)

      "Massport's BIM Addendum & Lean Update," co-presented with Dr. Luciana Burdi and Danielle Arciero of Massport, sponsored by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts (ACEC/MA) (12/1/2015)

      "The Basics of Construction Litigation and Arbitration," co-presented with Jonathan R. Hausner, taught prep course for the Construction Management Association of America's (CMAA) Certified Construction Manager (CCM) Exam at the Wentworth Institute of Technology (3/3/2015)

      "Overview of Resiliency and Massachusetts Implementation Plans," served as a panelist at a program sponsored by the New England Chapter of the Construction Management Association of America (9/16/2014)

      "Who Owns the Risk?" at workshop hosted by Associated General Contractors (AGC) Massachusetts in Boston, co-presented with Robert Foster Jr. of Leggat McCall; Peter Hamill of Turner Construction; Frederick Kramer of ADD, Inc.; Maureen McDonough of Harvard Planning & Project Management; and Robert Murray of BOND (12/4/2013)

      "Lies, Diversions, and Other Obstacles to Productive Mediation," presented by the Boston Bar Association, Panelist (9/13/2012)

      "Design-Build Joint Ventures," at dinner meeting of the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (3/15/2012)

      "Design-Build Project Delivery: Is It Right for Your Project?" Panelist (1/10/2012)

      "The Commonwealth's New Prompt Pay Law," at the program 3-in-1 Overview: How New Regulatory Changes May Affect You, hosted by the International Facility Management Association of Boston (3/10/2011)

      "Risk Management," at CMAA New England Chapter Breakfast Program (12/14/2010)

      "Risk Management and Alternative Dispute Resolution," at CMAA New England Chapter Breakfast Program (10/12/2010)

      "Recent Developments in Construction Manager Liability," at CMAA National Conference (10/5/2010)

      "Massachusetts' Construction Reform Legislation," at Town of Needham, Massachusetts (2007); The American Society of Civil Engineers, Rhode Island Chapter (2005); New England Construction Management Association of America, Boston, Massachusetts (2004, 2005)

      "America's Aging Infrastructure & Massachusetts Highway Bridge Inspection Program," at Construction Management Association of America, New England Chapter (2007)

      "Integrated Project Delivery," at Massport, Boston, Massachusetts (2009); Construction Management Association of America National Conference, Phoenix, Arizona (2009); Design-Build Institute of America New England Chapter, Boston, Massachusetts (2009)

      "Construction Management: Preparing the New Generation of Leaders — What Can Go Wrong in CM Delivery Methods: The Legal Perspective," at Wentworth Institute of Technology, Boston, Massachusetts (2006)

      "CM at Risk on Massachusetts Public Building Projects," at Town of Franklin, Massachusetts (2008); Massachusetts Association of Building Officials (2006)

    • News

      R+C in the News

      • June 25, 2018

        Joe Barra and Jon Small Co-author Article on Breach of Contract Published in BSCES News

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      • March 5, 2018

        Joe Barra Quoted in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly Article on Challenge to Historic Forfeiture Rule

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      • June 23, 2016

        Joe Barra Presents to MIBA on Building Information Modeling (BIM) Contract Form

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      • January 25, 2016

        Joe Barra Featured in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly Article

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      • December 9, 2015

        Joe Barra Co-presents at ACEC/MA Program

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      • September 19, 2014

        Joe Barra Speaks on Climate Change

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      • January 7, 2014

        Construction Lawyer Serves as Panelist at AGC Workshop

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      • August 23, 2013

        Boston Lawyer's Views on BIM Highlighted in Engineering News-Record

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      • June 17, 2013

        Joseph Barra to Present at Upcoming Massachusetts Construction Law Series

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      • April 29, 2013

        Boston Lawyer Receives CMAA's Distinguished Service Award

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      • October 5, 2012

        Construction Partner Talks About Mediation on Panel Discussion

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      • April 4, 2012

        Construction Partner Delivers Presentation on Joint Ventures

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      • January 27, 2012

        Construction Partner Spoke on Panel for Design-Build Projects in New England

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      • December 8, 2011

        Article on Massachusetts Lien Law by Construction Partner Published in Construction Management Association Newsletter

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      • June 7, 2011

        Joseph Barra Gives Practical Tips at the MCLE Construction Law and Litigation Seminar

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      • February 4, 2011

        Construction Attorney Gives Tips for the Expert Witness

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      R+C News Releases

      • October 21, 2010

        Joseph A. Barra Joins Robinson & Cole’s Construction Group

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