James Terry > 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


Construction Management Contract Preparation
Performance and Payment Bond Agreements


James J. Terry, a Partner at Zetlin & De Chiara LLP, is a successful litigator, negotiator and advocate specializing in the resolution of complex design, development and construction management disputes across the spectrum of the built environment.

In practice for more than three decades, his portfolio includes construction defect claims, bid protests, change orders, liquidated damages, delays, cumulative impact claims, lost productivity, acceleration and inefficiency claims for national and international clients. He resolves disputes involving construction contract and tort issues through mediation, arbitration and litigation. He has defended or secured more than hundreds of millions of dollars in claims and settlements on behalf of his clients.

Mr. Terry also has expertise with contract preparation. He has negotiated and drafted construction management contracts for major real estate development projects in the academic, institutional, cultural, hospitality, medical, retail and office sectors. A skillful communicator, he excels at making clear the responsibilities and rights of all parties in a transaction and that his clients’ roles are accurately reflected in agreements. His clients also seek his counsel on matters of risk management and general business practices.

Mr. Terry’s expertise includes the development and execution of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) that set labor compensation, work rules, schedules and performance expectations upfront, with the goal of ensuring quality and achieving the economical and efficient completion of a construction project.

In addition, Mr. Terry has deep experience in the area of performance and payment bond agreements. He has represented bond sureties in connection with the takeover and completion of several major projects from defaulting contractors; these include a sewage treatment plant, a state transportation authority complex, portions of the Washington D.C. and New York City subway systems and a substantial railroad maintenance facility.

Prior to joining Zetlin and De Chiara, Mr. Terry served as Vice President/General Counsel of F.J. Sciame Construction Co., Inc. As a litigation partner at a prestigious Wall Street law firm, he served as the lead appellate attorney in a significant and precedent-setting win for his client and benefitting similarly situated industry participants.


He is a member of the New York Building Congress, Federal Bar Council, CoreNet Global and a former arbitrator for the Court-Annexed Arbitration Program, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.


Columbia University, School of Law, J.D.
New York University, summa cum laude, B.A.


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‘.