SheriAnn Murphy is Vice President and General Counsel at Swinerton Incorporated, a commercial construction and construction management company founded in 1888. Murphy specializes in arbitration, commercial litigation and contract negotiation. Her previous education experience includes teaching construction management for Sacramento State University.
Why is Construction Law and Contracts important?
What I have seen in my career is that the best-in-class operations people understand the legal nuances in what are otherwise every day words – that the definitions are often slightly different but can have a big impact. These same operations people understand the reasoning behind terms in the contract, as well as how the contract works – in a way that is more than “because I have been told this is how we do it.” Understanding the terms and concepts help you better understand your weaknesses and strengths in any given position, which in turn allows for better negotiations in both contract terms at the beginning, as well as approach in disputes. It is an important part of being able to approach a project holistically.
What made you decide to get into teaching?
Teaching has always been a passion of mine, one in which I started in high school in working in classrooms at a local elementary school. Anytime I have the opportunity to help someone else grow in their knowledge and expand beyond their current abilities is a personal win for me.
What are you looking forward to most about teaching this course?
In working with construction professionals, they already bring to the table a wealth of practical knowledge, and my experience with teaching legal concepts at my company is that it provides those professionals the next step in understanding the best approaches in just about any situation.
If there’s a single thing you want students to take away from your course, what would it be?
Legal concepts are not complicated, but they do often bring a much different view on a given situation, so learning how best to apply those concepts at their work in their positions is key to their own success in the business.