Vandeventer Black and Woods Rogers to Merge, Forming Virginia-Based Powerhouse Law Firm

Michael L. Sterling

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

Education
  • 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
  • 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
  • Barrier Islands Center, Board of Directors
  • Board of Contract Appeals Bar Association
  • Construction Lawyers Society of America, Fellow
  • Eggleston Services, Board of Directors
  • Federal Bar Association, Sections on Public Contract Law and Litigation
  • Local Government Attorneys of Virginia
  • 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 State Bar, Sections on Construction Law & Public Contracts, and Local Government Law
  • Virginia Transportation & Construction Alliance
  • WHRO, Board Member
  • William & Mary Law School, Adjunct Professor of Mediation
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)
  • Virginia Lawyers Weekly, “Leader in the Law”
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, Government Contracts, Environmental, and Local Government Practice Group, Practice Management Committee, and Dispute Resolution Services.

Mike’s practice is concentrated on complex construction and government 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, airports, 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. Mike’s arbitration and mediation resumes are at adr.org.

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 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; conducted various presentations on ADR, adjunct professor of mediation 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, the Barrier Islands Center, and WHRO.  Mike has also 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

  • College Research Facility Fire: Counsel for general contractor in multiparty dispute arising from fire. Resolved through mediation (2021).
  • Multi-use Trail: Counsel for town in Kevcor v. Town of Cape Charles, Case No.:131CL19000282-00(2021) (Northampton Circuit Court). Dispute over delay on construction project resolved through mediation.
  • College Dorm Flood: Counsel for subcontractor in multiparty dispute arising from flooding due to alleged mechanical failure. Resolved through negotiation (2021).
  • Insurance Coverage for Historic Church Fire: Counsel for historic church in negotiation of insurance coverage for damage from a fire that arose during renovations. Resolved through negotiations between potentially responsible parties and insurers (2020).
  • Improper Default Termination: Counsel for subcontractor in McClain & Co., Inc. v. The Truesdell Corporation, Case No.: CL1901677F-15 (2019) (Newport News Circuit Court), in dispute regarding default termination of subcontract for the Virginia Department of Transportation project MMMBT North Approach Waterproofing, l-55. Settled during discovery.
  • Multi-Family Plumbing: Co-Counsel for general contractor in Curtis Key Plumbing, Inc. v. Hoy Construction, Inc., Case No: CL18-3311 (2019) (Norfolk Circuit Court), in dispute regarding payment and performance issues on the Norfolk Redevelopment Authority Grandy Village IV, Phase II Project. Settled during discovery.
  • Mechanical System: Co-Counsel for subcontractor in Southeastern Mechanical, Inc. v. The Salvation Army, Case No. CL18-24 (2018) (Norfolk Circuit Court), in dispute regarding water damage from sprinkler set-off related to boiler operation, and insurance coverage for alleged defective work. Settled after discovery and mediation.
  • 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 evaluation of the awardee’s proposed compensation plans in accordance with Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) provision 52.222-46 and the solicitation: Matter of The Bionetics Corporation, B-419727 (July 13, 2021). Successful protest at GAO.
  • Evaluation reasonable and consistent with the solicitation’s terms and applicable procurement statutes and regulations; agency reasonably investigated the potential Organizational Conflict of Interest (OCI) and that the protestor failed to demonstrate any unequal access to information: Matter of Zolon Tech, Inc., B-419280 et al. (2021). Successful defense of protest at GAO.
  • Proper Elimination of Protestor from Competitive Range, Equal Discussions and Evaluations: Matter of Priority One Services, Inc., B-415201 et al. (2018).  Successful defense of protest at GAO.
  • 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

  • Delay and Disruption: Claim for compensation due to delay and disruption on government marine construction contract, Appeal of McLean Contracting Company, ASBCA No. 62933 (2021), resolved through negotiation.  
  • Virginia Freedom of Information Act: Defense of action by former Town employee regarding alleged violation of public meeting requirements, David W. Fauber v. Town of Cape Charles, et al. Case No.: CL20-259(2021) (Northampton Circuit Court). Resolved by consent order.
  • Alaska Native Corporation (ANC): Request for Equitable Adjustment (REA) for improper failure of government agency to pay for services (2020). Paid in full.   
  • Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act: Defense of qui tam suit for alleged price fixing, Commonwealth of Virginia, etc. v. Chemtrade, et al. – CL17000944-00 (2018) (Circuit Court of Norfolk). Plaintiffs dismissed clients from suit after we filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction under an alleged conspiracy jurisdiction theory.
  • Alaska Native Corporation (ANC): Small Business Administration (SBA) compliance issues and subsidiary member derivative action, Smith and Sebastian v. Goldbelt, Inc. and Goldbelt Hawk, LLC – CL16-3843M-05 (2017) (Circuit Court of Newport News). Settled in mediation.
  • 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.
News
Attorneys Selected for the 2022 Virginia Super Lawyers List
/ Firm News
Vandeventer Black attorneys were selected to be included on the 2022 Virginia Super Lawyers list by Thomson Reuters. This rating service considers attorneys from over 70 practice areas nominated based on professional accomplishments and peer recognition. Attorneys from the Norfolk and Richmond offices received the Super Lawyers acknowledgment: Christopher Ambrosio, ...
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Vandeventer Black’s Sterling Elected to the Barrier Islands Center Board of Directors
/ Firm News
Vandeventer Black is pleased to announce that Managing Partner, Michael L. Sterling, was elected to the Barrier Islands Center (BIC) Board of Directors. According to the organization, the BIC’s mission is to “preserve and perpetuate the unique culture and history of Virginia’s Barrier Islands through education and the collection and interpretation of ...
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Vandeventer Black Attorneys Recognized as 2022 Top Lawyers of Coastal Virginia
/ Firm News
Attorneys from the Norfolk-based business and litigation law firm, Vandeventer Black, have been recognized as Top Lawyers of Coastal Virginia for 2022. This distinction is a peer-rated nomination given to those lawyers who exemplify excellence in their specialty. “We feel very proud of our legal team accomplishments for the high ...
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Articles
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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YOUR SWAM CERTIFICATION IS AT RISK
/ 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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