Kenneth M. Roberts

Roberts Kenneth

Ken Roberts, chair of Venable’s Construction Law Group, concentrates his practice on construction law, project controls, and procurement contracts. Ken is consulted on a daily basis by procurement and risk management departments concerning every aspect of planned or ongoing construction projects. He engages in a range of services, including preparation and negotiation of contracts, project controls monitoring and advice during ongoing projects, negotiation of change orders and contract additions, alternate dispute resolution through mediation, arbitration, dispute review boards, and, when necessary, litigation.

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 also 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

Ken has an extensive background in representing owners, contractors, and architect/engineers in multifaceted, complex disputes involving delays, disruption, and losses 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 and sat on and chaired several dispute resolution boards involving projects ranging in size up to $1 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.

Power Plant Construction

Ken has been involved in all elements of power plant construction and technology, including low NOx burners, heat recovery steam generators (HRSGs), selective catalyst reduction (SCR), precipitators, nuclear waste disposal and storage, coal handling systems, steam generators, gas and steam turbines, boilers, control systems, and other operational and environmental equipment. His range of services—including preparing contracts, the monitoring of over 20 major power/industrial/commercial projects, and the numerous mediations/arbitrations and negotiations over such projects—has given him a rare combination of technical and commercial insight that is useful in every aspect of his practice.

Project Controls

Ken has 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. His 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.

Ken has monitored construction-related and nuclear power plant litigation involving excess insurance and reinsurance issues. He has participated in numerous construction claims and other construction-related disputes on behalf of insurance carriers, and represented carriers on policy coverage issues. He also has extensive experience in government contract litigation, including representing a contractor in a state debarment proceeding, and government contract litigation.




  • Post-graduate studies University of Chicago Graduate School of Business Management Institute 2007
  • Post-graduate 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, Forum on the Construction Industry, Section of Dispute Resolution, CLE Committee
  • Member, American Bar Association, Section of Environment Energy & Resources
  • Past chair, American Bar Association, Section of Litigation, Corporate Counsel Committee
  • Vice chair, American Bar Association, Section of Public Contract Law, Construction Division
  • Past chair, American Bar Association, Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section, Committee on Excess, Surplus Lines and Reinsurance
  • Member, American Bar Association, Long-Range Planning Committee
  • Member, American Bar Association, Task Force on Corporate Governance
  • Past vice chair, Chicago Bar Association, Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee
  • Fellow, Construction Lawyers Society of America
  • Standing member, Corporate Counsel Institute
  • President of the Dispute Resolution Board Foundation, Region 1
  • Member, Illinois State Bar Association
  • Member, Missouri Bar Association
  • Member, New York Building Congress, Energy Committee
  • Member, Society of Illinois Construction Attorneys
  • Guest lecturer, Chicago­Kent College of Law, Mediation Advocacy, 2015
  • Adjunct professor, Northwestern University, Department of Civil Engineering Graduate Program, Construction Law & Risk Management, 2012 - present
  • Guest lecturer, Northwestern University, Department of Civil Engineering, Introduction to Risk/Finance for Engineers, 2013
  • Guest lecturer, Loyola University Chicago Law School, Mediation Advocacy, 2005 - 2012
  • Guest lecturer, Northwestern University, Department of Civil Engineering, Project Finance, 2008 - 2010
  • Guest lecturer, Northwestern University School of Law, Mediation Advocacy, 2008, 2010, 2012
  • Instructor, University of Iowa, College of Business, Introduction to Business Law, 1984 - 1985


  • The Best Lawyers in America, 2008 – 2009, 2012 – 2014, 2016 – 2023
  • Chambers USA, Construction, Illinois, 2006 – 2022
  • 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 – 2022
  • PLC Which Lawyer, Construction, Chicago, 2008 – 2013
  • Who's Who Legal, Construction, Illinois, 2003 – 2015
  • Lawdragon, 500 New Stars, 2007
  • Martindale-Hubbell, Peer Reviewed AV® Preeminent