Kenneth M. Roberts

Roberts Kenneth

Ken Roberts, chair of Venable’s Construction Law Group, concentrates his practice on representing owners and assisting owners’ teams on large capital improvement projects to bring the projects in as close to budget and schedule as possible. Ken has worked on $45 billion worth of projects with no litigation. He works with owners’ teams on a daily basis to resolve project issues at the business table and not in the courtroom. On a regular basis, Ken provides oversight (i.e., where a project is on budget and schedule) 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

Ken has an extensive background in representing owners, contractors, and architect/engineers in multifaceted, complex disputes involving delays, disruption, and losses of efficiency; breach of contract 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.




  • 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
    • 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
  • President, Dispute Resolution Board Foundation, 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
  • 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