Kenneth M. Roberts

Roberts Kenneth

Ken Roberts, chair of Venable’s Construction Law Group, concentrates his practice on helping owners and owners’ teams keep large capital improvement projects on budget and on schedule. Ken has worked on $45 billion worth of projects with no litigation, partnering with owners’ teams on a daily basis to resolve project issues at the business table rather than in the courtroom. He provides project oversight to both corporate boards and government entities. Ken is one of the few attorneys in the country who has provided construction prudency testimony to multiple government agencies.

Procurement/Contract Negotiation

By combining his skills as a litigator/advocate with his transactional experience, Ken provides clients with a set of unique services designed to suit their business needs. He has authored the standard forms for service and commercial contracts utilized by numerous companies and has advised owners during contract negotiations and major procurements. He and his team have negotiated more than $40 billion in major procurement contracts over the past several years.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Ken has an extensive background in representing owners, contractors, and architect/engineers in complex, multifaceted disputes involving delays, disruption, and loss of efficiency; breaches of contracts for performance, scope of work, and payment; and complex multi-party insurance coverage issues. He has acted as the sole facilitator for and sat on and chaired numerous dispute resolution boards involving projects ranging in size up to $2 billion.

Ken is widely recognized for his successful use of alternate dispute resolution, having successfully resolved virtually every type of construction dispute. He and his team typically mediate 15-20 times per year, generally in relation to issues that have not reached litigation.

Ken teaches a course at Northwestern Engineering Graduate School on Construction Management/Contracts that focuses heavily on ADR. In addition, Ken regularly lectures at several law schools on mediation and dispute resolution boards.

Canadian Experience

  • Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL): Retained by the AECL’s board of directors to act as an independent third party to perform a due diligence analysis of the company and evaluate AECL’s bid proposal in response to an RFP issued by Infrastructure Ontario for a two-unit, new-build nuclear plant for Ontario Power Generation’s Darlington site. As part of this work, Ken assisted AECL with risk evaluation and mitigation strategies, review and vetting of prospective costs on the project, and analysis of contracting models, insurance, and their related risks. In addition, Ken helped the government determine whether AECL, its consortium members, and its suppliers had the capability to deliver the project within the terms and conditions proposed. Ken then worked with the chairman of AECL and the government regarding issues that led up to the sale of AECL
  • ENMAX: Worked with ENMAX on key capital improvement projects
  • Ontario Energy Board (OEB): Provided an independent and objective assessment of the $12.8 billion Darlington Nuclear Refurbishment Program and testified before the OEB regarding his report at a hearing in Ontario in March 2017
  • Ontario Power Generation (OPG): Engaged, with the Construction Law Group, by OPG in conjunction with the Pickering A Return-To-Service Project (PARTS). The final cost of this Project phase was $1.25 billion—roughly three times the original project budget—and the completion date slipped by more than two years. Retained to analyze the root causes of the cost and schedule overruns; identify critical lessons learned that could be applied to the restart of the remaining units; and provide Independent Project Oversight of the second phase of the Project. Responsibilities included working with Prime Minister McGuinty on the oversight of the PARTS project; working with Jake Epp on his report to the government regarding the project status; working with David MacNaughton on his report; and working with OPG senior management on both phases of the project


  • Served on the board of T.D. Williamson, a pipeline service and equipment supplier focused on advanced isolation, integrated pigging, and integrity assessment for onshore and offshore applications. In addition, represented several energy/utility companies on pipeline construction issues
  • Advised owners, acted as project neutral, and participated as chair on dispute review boards on some of the country’s largest infrastructure projects
  • Airports: Served as the chair of the DRB on five of the country’s largest airport expansion projects. These involved expansion of new runways, renovation of existing terminals, and build-out of new terminals
  • Bridges and Highways: Served as project neutral on three of the country’s largest bridge and highway projects. Served for over five years on some of the country’s largest bridge projects, resolving all disputes without litigation. Also served as mediator on several large design-build projects, resolving disputes valued at over $100 million between owners, contractors, joint ventures, and their engineers/consultants
  • Transportation/Light Rail: Currently working on several light rail projects valued at over $3 billion. The projects have dealt extensively with start-up and testing issues, delay and inefficiency issues, differing site conditions, and accuracy and completeness of design packages

Project Controls

  • Provided project controls advice and project monitoring on more than 20 major energy, industrial, and commercial projects, ranging from newly built projects to plant expansions during limited outages. Project control engagements typically involve providing clients with realistic opinions of scheduling and cost issues, an objective appraisal of critical project issues, and resolution of disputes before they can impact ongoing work. Also testified on construction prudency. Testified in numerous state courts and before government bodies in the U.S. and Canada. Testimony was focused on whether settlements, change orders, and the owner’s overall decisions regarding the cost of a project were within industry standards




  • Postgraduate studies University of Chicago Graduate School of Business Management Institute 2007
  • Postgraduate studies Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management 2000
  • J.D. University of Iowa College of Law 1985
  • B.G.S. Political Science with honors University of Iowa 1982

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois
  • Missouri
  • New York

Court Admissions

  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri

Professional Memberships and Activities

  • Board member, T.D. Williamson Inc., 2009 – 2014
  • American Bar Association
    • Member, Forum on the Construction Industry, CLE committee, Section of Dispute Resolution
    • Member, Section of Environment Energy & Resources
    • Past chair, Corporate Counsel Committee, Section of Litigation
    • Vice chair, Construction Division, Section of Public Contract Law
    • Past chair, Committee on Excess, Surplus Lines and Reinsurance, Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section
    • Member, Long-Range Planning Committee
    • Member, Task Force on Corporate Governance
  • Chicago Bar Association
    • Past vice chair, Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee
  • Fellow, Construction Lawyers Society of America
  • Standing member, Corporate Counsel Institute
  • Dispute Resolution Board Foundation (DRBF)
    • President-elect, Executive Board, International
    • Past president, Region 1
  • Member, Illinois State Bar Association
  • Member, Missouri Bar Association
  • Member, Energy Committee, New York Building Congress
  • Member, Society of Illinois Construction Attorneys
  • Guest lecturer, Mediation Advocacy, Chicago-Kent College of Law, 2015 – present
  • Guest lecturer, Mediation Advocacy, American University Washington College of Law, 2021 – present
  • Northwestern University
    • Adjunct professor, Construction Law & Risk Management, Department of Civil Engineering Graduate Program, 2012 – present
    • Guest lecturer, Introduction to Risk/Finance for Engineers, Department of Civil Engineering, 2013
    • Guest lecturer, Project Finance, Department of Civil Engineering, 2008 – 2010
    • Guest lecturer, Mediation Advocacy, Northwestern University School of Law, 2008, 2010, 2012
  • Guest lecturer, Mediation Advocacy, Loyola University Chicago Law School, 2005 – 2012
  • Instructor, University of Iowa, College of Business, Introduction to Business Law, 1984 – 1985


  • The Best Lawyers in America
    • Construction Law, 2008 – 2009, 2012 – 2014, 2016 – 2024
    • Real Estate & Infrastructure Issue, Lawyer of the Year, Construction Law, Chicago, 2023 – 2024
  • Chambers USA, Construction, Illinois, 2006 – 2023
  • National Law Journal, Real Estate/Construction Law Trailblazer, 2020
  • Law Bulletin Media
    • Leading Lawyer, ADR Law: Commercial Litigation, 2016 – 2021
    • Leading Lawyer, ADR Law: Commercial Real Estate, 2006 – 2021
    • Leading Lawyer, Environmental & Construction, 2006 – 2020
    • Leading Lawyer, Construction Law, 2006 – 2021
    • Top 10 Construction Lawyers, 2011 – 2012, 2015
    • Top 100 Real Estate-Related Lawyers, 2011 – 2012, 2015
  • Super Lawyers
    • Illinois, 2006 – 2009, 2011 – 2020, 2022 – 2023
    • Top 100, Illinois, 2019
  • Legal 500, Construction, 2006, 2011, 2016 – 2023
  • PLC Which Lawyer, Construction, Chicago, 2008 – 2013
  • Who's Who Legal
    • Construction, Illinois, 2003 – 2015
    • Construction, Illinois, Thought Leader, 2023
  • Lawdragon, 500 New Stars, 2007
  • Martindale-Hubbell, Peer Reviewed AV® Preeminent