About Michael K. De Chiara: what makes him a prominent construction attorney?

Attorney Michael K. De Chiara is one of the most prominent and respected construction law experts in the United States.

He has represented and continues to represent numerous clients, who are mostly design professionals, in matters relating to construction law.

In this article, we explore attorney De Chiara’s educational background, career, achievements, and practice areas.

Furthermore, we convince you why you need to consult Michael K. De Chiara to help you make the best-informed decisions.

Who is attorney Michael De Chiara?

About Michael K. De Chiara: what makes him a prominent construction attorney?
Attorney Michael De Chiara. Photo from zdlaw.com

Michael K. De Chiara is a senior partner at Zetlin & De Chiara LLP, a leading construction law firm based in New York City.

He is also the general counsel for the American Institute of Architects, New York State, and the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York.

He serves on the boards of directors of The New York Landmarks Conservancy and The New York Building Foundation.

Educational Background

Michael K De Chiara is a Mechanical Engineer graduate from Stony Brook University where he also graduated with a Master of Science (Qualitative Policy Analysis).

He obtained his Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the Vanderbilt University Law School. Consequently, he passed the bar exams and was admitted to the New York State Bar Association.

Mr. De Chiara also studied Planning & Preservation at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture.

His dual expertise in law and engineering gives him a unique perspective and advantage in handling construction-related matters.

Career progress

Michael K. De Chiara decided to become a lawyer after working as an engineer for several years.

He realized that he enjoyed the intellectual challenge and problem-solving aspects of law more than engineering. He also wanted to combine his technical knowledge with his legal skills to serve the construction industry.

Since then, he has served as an attorney offering counsel to some of the largest construction, engineering, and architectural firms located across the US.

Michael K. De Chiara began his career in 1984 working as an assistant district attorney in Bronx County, New York.

He then joined Zetlin & De Chiara LLP in 1989 and became a senior partner in 1995.

He specializes in construction litigation, arbitration, mediation, contract negotiation, and drafting.

Attorney Michael De Chiara also works pro bono. Notably, he has litigated to protect and preserve the famous Picasso work Le Tricorne, which was located in the Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram Building in New York City.

Occasionally, Mr. De Chiara also publishes and conducts lectures. He is a faculty member at Cornell University.

Practice areas of attorney Michael K De Chiara

About Michael K. De Chiara: what makes him a prominent construction attorney?
Michael De Chiara, a construction law expert. Image from LinkedIn

Michael K. De Chiara has extensive experience and expertise in various aspects of construction law, such as:

  • Construction disputes

As an attorney, Mr. De Chiara specializes in the representation of design professionals such as engineers from claims involving housing defects etcetera.

Attorney Michael K De Chiara is currently handling the most high-profile construction dispute in the US. The case involves a large condominium residence located in San Fransico.

  • Construction contract and innovation

Attorney Michael K De Chiara is experienced in contract negotiation and drafting.

Previously, he has been involved in public-public-private partnership (PPP) ventures and has negotiated and drafted contracts for Integrated Project Delivery projects.

Currently, attorney Michael De Chiara is negotiating the largest private Project Labor Agreement for a single building in the history of the United States.

In addition, Mr. De Chiara has negotiated and drafted several engineering contracts for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center buildings in New York where he was representing clients dealing with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Silverstein Properties. He was also involved in negotiating the architectural contract for the World Trade Center Memorial.

As an expert in this field, Michael K. De Chiara has also negotiated and drafted contracts the following contracts

  • Contracts for engineering and architectural works for the Hudson Yards Development
  • Contract for the United Nations in developing their model design-build that is used throughout the world.

Apart from developing contracts, attorney Michael De Chiara is also proficient in Dispute Resolution and Commercial Litigation. He has represented the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority in several major litigations.

Notable professional Achievements of Michael K De Chiara

Michael K. De Chiara holds an AV Preeminent® rating from The Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ system. An AV Preeminent® rating is the highest peer rating standard given to attorneys who are ranked at the highest level of professional excellence for their legal expertise, communication skills, and ethical standards by their peers.

Michael K. De Chiara has also received numerous awards and recognitions for his outstanding contributions to the construction industry and the legal profession, such as:

  • Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business (2004-2020)
  • The Best Lawyers in America (2006-2020)
  • Super Lawyers (2006-2023)
  • Who’s Who Legal: Construction (2014-2020)
  • AIA New York State President’s Citation for Outstanding Service (2015)
  • In recognition of his dedication to the community, he received March of Dimes Thomas E. Diana Spirit of Volunteerism Award (2017)

In addition, attorney Michael K De Chiara can boast of winning multi-million-dollar settlements for his clients.

For example, he has previously successfully defended an engineer in the collapse of a major casino where the resultant claims were worth $300 million.

Additionally, he also won another case, where an engineer was being used by a large California hospital. The potential claims exceeded $350 million.

Another notable achievement of Michael K De Chiara is being the only construction attorney in private practice who has represented the Federal General Services Administration. In this case, he managed to save the Federal General Services Administration from a claim of over $100 million in connection with a major Federal Courthouse.

Professional and Bar Activity of Michael K De Chiara

As an attorney with work experience of more than 36 years, Michael K. De Chiara is an active participant and member of several organizations.

Michael K. De Chiara serves on the Board of Directors of the New York Landmarks Conservancy and the New York Building Foundation.

He also serves as the General Counsel for the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and the New York State and the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York (ACEC/NY). Furthermore, he serves as the chairperson of the AIA-ACEC/NY Special Advisory Committees

Other organizations he serves in include

  • New York Building Foundation where he is a Board Member/General Counsel
  • New York Building Congress — Member, Energy; Healthcare; Planning, Growth & Sustainability; Public Building & Procurement; and Transportation & Infrastructure Committees
  • Society of American Military Engineers
  • Real Estate Board of New York
  • Construction Management Association of America
  • American Bar Association — Member, Construction Industry Forum
  • New York City Bar Association
  • New York State Bar Association
  • New Jersey State Bar Association
He is also licensed to practice in the following courts:
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court, New York

Zetlin & De Chiara LLP

About Michael K. De Chiara: what makes him a prominent construction attorney?
Zetlin & De Chiara LLP. Image from zdlaw.com

Zetlin & De Chiara LLP is a law firm based in New York, New York. The main focus of the firm is on construction and built environment law.

The firm’s main clients include real estate owners, developers, financial institutions, owner’s representatives, design professionals, construction managers, and contractors

The main task to expect when hiring attorneys at the Zetlin & De Chiara LLP include

  • counsel throughout the planning, design, and construction process,
  • drafting and negotiating contracts
  • risk management strategies

Started in 1992 by Michael De Chiara and Michael Zetlin, the law firm also has offices in Caldwell, New Jersey, and Stamford, Connecticut.

The address of its main office is:

Zetlin & De Chiara LLP

801 2nd Avenue

16th Floor

New York, NY 10017


You can contact Michael K. De Chiara by email or phone:


Known for his prowess in strategy and successful representation of numerous clients, Michael K. De Chiara has achieved remarkable success and recognition as a pre-eminent construction law expert in the United States.

A senior partner at Zetlin & De Chiara, Mr. De Chiara has an experience of 20 years in representing clients in domestic and international construction disputes.

Attorney Michael De Chiara is a recognized and experienced leader in aspects of the law relating to the design and construction industry.

Therefore, if you want a person who can help you resolve your disputes, draft and negotiate your contracts, or handle issues regarding commercial litigation, consider hiring the services of attorney Michael De Chiara.

When not handling issues relating to design professionals, Mr. De Chiara also advises clients on financial affairs and general business matters covering partnership law, corporate law, employment law, and professional practice matters.