Michael Vardaro > Zetlin & De Chiara LLP > New York, United States > Lawyer Profile

Zetlin & De Chiara LLP
NEW YORK, NY 10017
United States

Work Department

Construction Law
Commercial Litigation
Business Counseling
Design Professional


Construction Contract Negotiation
Agreements and Dispute Resolution
Construction Ethics


Michael J. Vardaro, Managing Partner at Zetlin & De Chiara LLP, is a former construction worker with a degree in civil engineering who focuses his practice on construction litigation, drafting and negotiating construction contracts, and providing advice to a variety of construction industry clients.

Mr. Vardaro’s unique background gives him the ability to understand the intricacies and nuances of the construction process and to provide focused and innovative counseling to clients ranging from construction companies to owners/developers to architects and engineers. Mr. Vardaro is well known for expertise on the ethics of construction, and is a frequent speaker on the topic. Of note, he has been invited by industry groups to lead a detailed seminar on the unique story of the Citicorp building in midtown Manhattan.

Mr. Vardaro has successfully led litigation teams in complex commercial and construction litigation matters in various venues across the country and internationally. He has extensive experience resolving claims through mediation as well as representing clients before administrative boards and arbitration panels. In addition to litigating, Mr. Vardaro drafts and negotiates complex construction contracts for various project types around the world and regularly counsels clients with respect to professional licensing, corporate organization and transition, general business matters, risk management and insurance issues. He works extensively with regard to advancements in the construction process, including design build, integrated project delivery (IPD), building information modeling (BIM), and sustainable/green design and construction.


Mr. Vardaro is a member of the Legal Counsel Forum at the American Council of Engineering Companies. He is also a member of the Energy, Environment, Public Procurement and Healthcare Committees at the New York Building Congress. His other professional memberships include the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American, New York State and Florida Bar Associations.


St. John’s University, School of Law, J.D.
Villanova University, Civil Engineering, B.C.E.

Lawyer Rankings

United States > Real estate > Construction (including construction litigation)

Boutique New York construction firm Zetlin & De Chiara LLP acts for developers, owners, architects, engineers, construction managers and contractors. Founding partners Michael Zetlin and Michael De Chiara are ‘superb litigators’ and ‘deliver results‘; De Chiara recently represented Handel Architects and DeSimone Consulting Engineers in a high-profile construction dispute relating to the Millennium Tower in San Francisco. Issues with the tower are highly publicized, and the firm represents the clients in multiple actions totaling over $100m. The team includes ‘excellent‘ managing partner Michael Vardaro, who is ‘outstanding in his representation of clients and his knowledge of the law‘, in addition to of counsel Louis Dennis and associate Anthony Riverso. Vardaro also advised Shop Architects as one of the primary contractors on a new $1bn inner city mixed-use development project in Detroit. James Terry, who is ‘extremely good at juggling a busy practice‘, was part of the team negotiating and drafting construction and lease agreements for the conversion of the former Bayview Women’s Correctional Facility to a social services facility. He was supported by Carol Patterson, seen by some as ‘one of the leaders in construction law‘. Terry, as well as associates Richard Kalinowski and Chengdong Xing, was also part of a team led by Zetlin that represented a national real estate developer in disputes connected to the renovation of a transportation facility in Manhattan. Also highly recommended are senior associate Joeann Walker and Raymond Mellon, who has ‘developed strong credentials with the design community‘, and Bill Chimos, Jaimee Nardiello and associate Roy Schwartz, who are ‘all excellent and provide great value for their services‘.