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Home / 2011 Construction Law / Dodge ‘happy to go to trial’ for construction clients

Dodge ‘happy to go to trial’ for construction clients

Staff photo by Kevin Harnack

Early on in his career, Chris Dodge was assigned a defining case representing a contractor in a defect dispute.

“I’d had some construction experience myself, working construction summer jobs both before and during my undergrad years. So I really latched onto that case,” said Dodge, now with Murphy Desmond SC in Madison. “Since then I’ve just been drawn to those cases.”

Dodge concentrates in contractor and defects disputes for residential and commercial properties. He represents both contractors and individuals, and said he is “happy to go to trial” on their behalf.

He’s been involved in matters in courtrooms across the state, but the bulk of Dodge’s work has been in Dane County and the surrounding area. He’s been involved in multi-million dollar cases and those where maybe only a few thousand dollars were at stake.

“But in some respects, they’re all the same case,” Dodge said, “in terms of the impact they’ve had on my clients’ lives.”

The Daily Reporter: What do you consider your biggest career achievement to date and why?

Chris Dodge: I’ve been fortunate to be retained by some of the finest people and businesses in the area. And I’ve been very successful at trial. That comes from a real enjoyment of going to court. I think many lawyers, even litigators, avoid the courtroom these days, but I like it very much.

TDR: What is the number one legal issue construction firms need to be aware of today and why?

Dodge: The cards can be stacked in the favor of construction firms in a number of ways: a good understanding of all the laws at play; using good contracts that head off many of the issues that can arise; good insurance; using the proper entities for your business; good vetting of customers, contractors and suppliers; and building a team around you to address these issues.

TDR: What is one thing attorneys should know that they won’t learn in law school?

Dodge: You don’t learn how to meet or interact with clients. And one of the biggest tasks for lawyers in firms is to serve your clients well – but before you can do that, you need to have clients to serve. That’s not taught in law school, and it’s a challenge for every attorney.

TDR: Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Dodge: “Continuum of options.” I wince when I hear myself saying it, but I use it constantly. It stems from my belief that clients need to know all their options as well as the possible outcomes for each option in order to make good decisions in their cases.

TDR: What was your least favorite course in law school and why?

Dodge: I took a class during my last semester of law school, Legal Theory, and to this day I’m still not sure what it was about. I did well in it, nonetheless. On the final exam, I remember reciting lyrics to an Indigo Girls song, “Closer to Fine,” (laughs). Apparently it was a good answer.

TDR: If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?

Dodge: My father was a teacher, and I love the concept of being a teacher. The other option was to be a professional drummer. I’ve been playing in bands since I was 13.

TDR: Who are your heroes?

Dodge: My dad, Robert Dodge; a great father, a wonderful educator and a pure-hearted individual.

TDR: Where would you like to live?

Dodge: I love Madison. Twice I’ve tried to leave, and both times I’ve been pulled back. I’ve traveled extensively, and I still can’t think of a better place to live than Madison.

TDR: What piece of new technology could you no longer live without?

Dodge: I’ve recently become addicted to a game “Angry Birds.”

TDR: What is your definition of success?

Dodge: There are a lot of definitions out there, but for me, having a great practice, great clients and wonderful friends constitutes success.

TDR: What are your words to live by?

Dodge: “Pick the right battles.” This applies to both my life and my practice.

–          Jane Pribek


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