Michael L. Sterling

Office Location: Norfolk, VA., Richmond, VA.

  • B.A. (cum laude), Economics, Lawrence University
  • J.D. (Order of the Coif, Order of the Barrister), Marshall-Wythe School of Law, College of William & Mary
Court & Administrative Bodies
  • Supreme Court of the U.S.
  • U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fourth, Fifth, and Federal Circuits
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims
  • U. S. Boards of Contract Appeals
  • Federal Aviation Administration
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office
Professional & Community Activities
  • Eggleston Services, Board of Directors
  • American Arbitration Association, Mediator and Arbitrator
  • American Bar Association, Construction Law, Public Contract Law, Dispute Resolution, State and Local Government Law and International Law Sections, Construction Industry Forum
  • Associated General Contractors of Virginia
  • Association of Builders & Contractors
  • Board of Contract Appeals Bar Association
  • Construction Lawyers Society of America, Fellow
  • Design-Build Institute of America, Moderator, Hampton Roads Industry -Government Round Table
  • Federal Bar Association, Sections on Public Contract Law and Litigation
  • National Contract Management Association, Fellow and Past President Norfolk Area Chapter
  • Norfolk Portsmouth Bar Association, Former Executive Committee Member and Founding Member and Former Chairman of Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Tidewater Association of Service Contractors
  • Virginia Bar Association, Joint Committee on ADR; Local Government Law Section; Construction & Public Contracts Law Section, Past Chairman
  • Virginia Beach Bar Association
  • Local Government Attorneys of Virginia
  • Virginia State Bar, Sections on Construction Law & Public Contracts, and Local Government Law
  • Virginia Transportation & Construction Alliance
  • Virginia Chamber Legal and Regulatory Reform Institute, Advisory Board Member
  • Dispute Resolution Board Foundation, Former Member
  • WHRO, Board Member
Notable Accomplishments
  • AV® Preeminent™ by Martindale-Hubbell® Law Directory
  • Virginia Business, “Legal Elite” (2002-present)
  • Thomson Reuters, “Virginia Super Lawyers” – Construction & Government Contracts (2006-present)
  • A Top Virginia Attorney in Corporate Litigation & Construction
  • A Virginia Top Rated Lawyer -Construction
  • American Arbitration Association Mediator and Arbitrator
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® – Construction Law (2013-present)
  • Best Lawyers in America®, “Lawyer of the Year” – Construction Law (2018)
  • Coastal Virginia Magazine, “Top Lawyers”, Construction (2016-present)
  • Virginia Business, “Virginia 500 – The Power List” (2020-present)
Publications & Presentations

Mike serves as the Managing Partner of the law firm and is located in the Firm’s Norfolk office. He has also served on the Executive Board and Chaired the firm’s Construction and Government Contracts Practice Group, Practice Management Committee, and Dispute Resolution Services.

Mike’s practice is concentrated on complex projects and disputes for international, national and local clients with particular focus on compliance and other regulatory issues.

He is experienced in a wide range of project delivery methods including design-build and public-private-partnerships; projects included cogeneration and processing plants, wind tunnels, cable stay bridges, highways, stadiums, hotels, courthouses, hospitals, water and wastewater treatment plants, parking garages, high-rise condominiums, environmental site restoration, demolition and large scale residential developments as well as ship construction and repair; represented general contractors, subcontractors, vendors, manufacturers and design professionals, as well as private and public owners; experienced with the Federal Acquisition Regulations, related agency regulations and statutes applicable to federal government funded contracts and grants; appeared before federal and state courts, boards of contract appeals, GAO, agency administrative judges and arbitration panels; and  prevailed at the United States Supreme Court.

Mike also manages the law firm’s Dispute Resolution Services. He serves as an arbitrator and mediator for the American Arbitration Association (AAA), various courts and by private appointment.

Construction matters have ranged from claims of defective workmanship to incomplete work to other performance and payment related problems; non-construction matters have included securities fraud, creditor-debtor, joint venture and governance, disputes, employer-employee disputes and other commercial matters; mediated attorney-client fee disputes for the Virginia State Bar; also served as a Hearing Officer for the Supreme Court of Virginia presiding over various state and local employee grievances and professional licensing disputes; represented construction clients in numerous alternative dispute resolution proceedings including AAA arbitration, mediation, early neutral evaluation and partnering sessions; founded the Norfolk and Portsmouth Bar Association ADR Committee that prepared a standing order for court-sponsored ADR; and conducted various presentations on ADR including as a guest lecturer at William & Mary School of Law.

Mike recognizes the importance of public and professional service and serves on the Board of Directors of Eggleston Services.  Mike has served on the Boards of the Red Cross of Southeastern Virginia, and the Norfolk and Portsmouth Bar Association, and he has been Chairman of the Virginia Bar Association Construction and Public Contract Law Executive Council and the Vandeventer Black Foundation.

Representative Matters

Claims and Disputes

  • Construction Contract Forum Selection Clause: Co-Counsel for general contractor in Atlantic Marine Construction Company, Inc. v. J-Crew Management, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 568 (2013) where the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of the general contractor, AMC.
  • Bridge Construction: Co-Counsel for general contractor in dispute regarding claim for delays and other changes on project for the construction of a new bridge from Chincoteague, Virginia to the mainland, a connector spur from the new bridge on the Virginia Eastern Shore.
  • Hospital Construction and Renovation: Co-Counsel in design dispute regarding the new construction and renovation of a historic hospital.
  • Dam Construction: Counsel to excavation subcontractor in dispute with general contractor and public owner in Virginia regarding differing site conditions related to drilling and grouting.
  • Multi-story Retirement Complex: Counsel for general contractor in dispute with owner and architect concerning design defects in building envelope, as well as disputes with various subcontractors.
  • State Courthouse: Counsel to steel fabricator in defense of claims by erector for delay, disruption and changed work.
  • Hotel: Counsel to architect in defense of claim of alleged design error in light gauge metal steel frame leading to building collapse during construction, and pursuit of third party claim against structural engineer.
  • International Airport: Counsel to steel fabricator in defense of claims by erector for delay, disruption and changed work.
  • Oceanfront Condominiums: Co-counsel for various condominium associations in disputes with developers and builders related to building envelope defects.
  • Communications Facility: Counsel for general contractor in dispute with DoD regarding design defects related to standing seam metal roof on structure intended to house top secret communications equipment, and claims against surety arising from default by electrical subcontractor.
  • Hospital: Counsel for masonry subcontractor in connection with claim for design defects and insurance coverage related to building envelope failure.
  • Paper Plant: Counsel to international steam turbine manufacturer in dispute related to design and performance of turbine-generator set.
  • Football Stadium: Counsel for steel fabricator in connection with dispute involving alleged defective design and delay, disruption and cost impact during construction and renovation of college football stadium.

Protests, Injunctions, and Declaratory Relief

  • Improper Best Value DeterminationMatter of MTS Technologies, B-413813 et al. (2016). Agency agreed to corrective action.
  • Insurance Coverage: Counsel for insurer defense of declaratory action for coverage under CGL policy, Certain Underwriters at Lloyds, London v. Middleton et al. (Norfolk Cir. Ct. CL 14000104-00, 2015). The claims were dismissed on our motion.
  • Sale of Building and Rezoning by Public Body: Counsel for Town of Cape Charles in Old School Cape Charles, LLC, et al., v. Cape Charles Town Council, et al., (Virginia Supreme Court No. 131085, Nov. 15, 2013), where the Court upheld the trial court’s denial of declaratory and injunctive relief, and ruling that the Town properly sold an old school, amended the zoning ordinance and granted a conditional use permit.
  • Incorrect Decision on Lack of Responsibility: Successfully protested exclusion of steel fabricator from project to fabricate strongbacks for a Navy drydock.
  • Improper Rejection of Bid as Nonresponsive: Successfully protested rejection of bid by school board based on alleged failure of bidder to include proposed contract completion date.

Specialized Public Contract Matters

  • Ethics and OCI Compliance Programs: Preparation and implementation of ethics and organizational conflict of interest compliance programs, and related investigations for various clients.
  • Contract and Purchase Order Documentation: Preparation and implementation of contract and purchase order documentation and related advice for various clients.
  • Environmental claims: Representation of several clients in defense of environmental claims related to the general, transportation and disposal of hazardous waste.
  • Wastewater and Water Treatment Plant Construction: Counsel to locality in conjunction with the financing, planning and construction of new wastewater and water treatment plants.
  • Local Government: Counsel to various localities and public authorities in connection with public-private-partnerships, contracts, protests, building code, land use and administrative law issues.

Design-Build Matters

  • Child Development Centers: Counsel for general contractor in connection with design, supply and installation of modular child development centers throughout the United States, and related litigation with team member, subcontractors and others.
  • DoD Design Build Projects: Representation of numerous prime and subcontractors on a variety of design-build projects for the Department of Defense including, pier, museum, housing and other facilities projects.
  • Cable Stay Bridge Construction: Co-counsel for international construction company in dispute regarding bridge and approach design.

Arbitrator – Mediator

  • Construction: Appointed as arbitrator or mediator in numerous construction dispute cases for the American Arbitration Association, Better Business Bureau, the Community Mediation Center, courts and parties. Matters ranging from claims of defective workmanship to incomplete work, payment, performance and agreement related problems on complex commercial and residential construction projects.
  • Government ContractsUnited States of America, ex rel Donald Hicks v. Chrysler Corp., et al. Case No. CV-98-CO-154-NE and United States of America ex rel. Jack Simon v. Diamler – Chrysler.,et al., Case No. CV-99-C0-1846-S. Appointed as mediator by the United States District Court of the Northern District of Alabama in these 100 million dollar qui tam actions for alleged violations of the False Claims Act during the performance of government military contracts and related employment claims. Successfully mediated settlement between the parties in both matters.
  • Business Disputes: Appointed as arbitrator in various matters including law firm partnership dispute, estate and business ownership disputes.
  • Insurance Disputes: Appointed as arbitrator in crop insurance dispute.
  • Creditor Disputes: Appointed as arbitrator in numerous creditor disputes by the National Arbitration Forum.
  • Consumer Disputes: Appointed as arbitrator or mediator in various consumer disputes by the Better Business Bureau and the Community Mediation Center.
  • Securities Matters: Appointed as arbitrator or mediator in various securities trading and related disputes by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA, formerly NASD).
  • Employment Issues: Appointed as a Hearing Officer by the Virginia Supreme Court to preside over various state and local employee grievances, or professional licensing disputes. Alternate Panel Arbitrator for the Travel Agent Arbiter Program.
  • Maritime Matters: Appointed arbitrator in various matters including dispute over vessel construction, and design and installation of pier and facility cranes; appointed mediator in disputes between vessel owner and operator concerning management agreements and associated fees.
  • Attorney Fees: Appointed by Virginia State Bar to mediate a variety of client and attorney fee disputes.
Michael L. Sterling Selected as a 2021 Leader in the Law
/ Firm News
Vandeventer Black’s AV® Preeminent-rated attorney and Managing Partner, Michael L. Sterling, was selected as a 2021 Leader in the Law by Virginia Lawyers Weekly. Sterling is a highly accomplished attorney who has also been recognized among the ‘Virginia Super Lawyers’ by Thompson Reuters and ‘Lawyer of the Year’ by Best Lawyers ...
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Sterling and Ottinger Included in the Virginia 500: The 2021 Power List
/ Firm News
Vandeventer Black LLP Managing Partner Michael L. Sterling, and Partner, Richard Ottinger, have been included in the Virginia 500, The 2021 Power List in the ‘Law’ category. According to Virginia Business Magazine, the Virginia 500 includes “the state’s most powerful and influential leaders by sectors,” based on their professional attributions. Michael L. Sterling serves on Vandeventer Black’s Executive Board and has Chaired the ...
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28 Vandeventer Black LLP lawyers named to 2022 Best Lawyers® list
/ Firm News
Vandeventer Black LLP is pleased to announce that 28 lawyers were included in the 2022 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America. The Best Lawyers in America lists are divided by geographic region and practice areas. Attorneys are reviewed by their peers based on professional expertise and undergo an authentication process. “We would ...
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New Emergency Temporary Standard Will Apply to Employers in Virginia
This article is the first in a three-part series discussing the New Emergency Temporary Standards for Employers in Virginia. Click here to read Part 2 and Part 3. Governor Northam’s executive order (EO 63), tasked the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board (the Board) – which “promulgates and adopts job ...
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Small Business Size Standards: Calculation Of Annual Average Receipts
/ Corporate & Business
Transition From A 3-Year Averaging Period To A 5-Year Averaging Period As reported in the Federal Register, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA or Agency) is modifying its method for calculating average annual receipts used to prescribe size standards for small businesses. Fed. Reg. Vol. 84,  No. 234, Dec. 5, ...
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/ Corporate & Business
The Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity (DSBSD) administers the small, women-owned and minority-owned (SWaM) business program. The DSBSD SWaM Certification Division reviews initial and recertification applications. DSBSD certification eligibility determinations are based on existing circumstances at the time of application. The criteria are in the Commonwealth of ...
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