John Ralls | Partner

John Ralls


University of California, Berkeley
Juris Doctor, 2001
School of Law (formerly Boalt Hall) (JD, 1990) 

University of California, Berkeley
(AB, 1987), Phi Beta Kappa

Howrey LLP
Partner 2008-2011 

Thelen LLP (and predecessors)
Partner 1998-2008
Associate 1994-1997

Pettit & Martin
Associate 1990-1994


United States Court of Appeals for the Federal and Ninth Circuits

United States District Court for the Northern, Central, and Eastern Districts of California

United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee (pro hac vice)

United Stated District Court for the District of Arizona (pro hac vice)

United Stated District Court for the District of Delaware (pro hac vice)

Circuit Court of Virginia (pro hac vice)

District Court of Harris County, Texas (pro hac vice)

Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals

Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (and its predecessor, the GSBCA

Fellow, American College of Construction Lawyers 

Who’s Who Legal—Construction, 2018 to present

Editor, The Construction Lawyer ABA Forum on Construction Law, 2008-2012

Associate Editor, The Construction Lawyer, ABA Forum on Construction Law, 2004-2008

Life Fellow, American Bar Foundation, 2007 to present

Northern California Super Lawyer, 2007-2020

Associated General Contractors of California, Legal Advisory Committee, Chair, 2004 and Vice Chair, 2003

John Ralls is a trial attorney who specializes in construction claims, disputes, and counseling.

John spent over 20 years with major national firms (including Thelen LLP and Howrey LLP) where he built a broad construction and public contracts practice. He represents owners, design professionals, general contractors, subcontractors, equipment suppliers, and construction managers in trials, arbitrations, mediations, and negotiations. He also provides contract, dispute, and licensing advice before, during, and after construction projects. He has provided these services on a variety of projects, including commercial buildings, transportation projects, university buildings, convention centers, wind energy projects, hospitals, civil works, military installations, and industrial facilities. He has represented clients in trials, arbitrations, and mediations, throughout the United States, and has tried or arbitrated cases in California, Nevada, Washington DC, Virginia, Texas, and Hawaii. 

He has obtained multi-million-dollar awards and verdicts on behalf of his clients and has recovered tens of millions of dollars on behalf of a public university system in construction defect litigation. He has also obtained defense verdicts and summary judgments in complex construction contract cases.

John Ralls has been listed as a Northern California Super Lawyer by San Francisco Law & Politics Magazine for the last twelve years. He is also a past Chair of the California Associated General Contractors Legal Advisory Committee. In 2019, he became a Fellow of the American College of Construction Lawyers.

He is a frequent writer and speaker on construction law topics. In 2013, he completed the editing (with Frank Elmore and Lauren Catoe) of the Second Edition of Fundamentals of Construction Law (published in 2012 by the American Bar Association). He was the Editor (2008-2012) and was the Associate Editor (2004-2008) of Construction Lawyer, the quarterly law journal of the ABA Forum on Construction Law.

He is married and the father of two. He enjoys cooking and playing tennis with his family.

  • Defended $20 million delay and disruption claim brought by prime trade contractor on university building project. Obtained defense verdict after six-week jury trial.
  • On behalf of a national contractor, prosecuted to award multi-million-dollar delay, disruption, and extra work claims arising from a water treatment plant. Obtained award in favor of the contractor of $12 million.
  • Prosecuted a major construction defect case on behalf of a public university, obtaining recovery of $35 million.
  • Prosecuted another major construction defect case on behalf of a public university, obtaining recovery of $25 million.
  • Tried a termination for convenience claim governed by the Federal Acquisition Regulation, obtaining award in favor of the contractor-claimant. Dispute centered on “contract price ceiling” and required proof of costs incurred, delays, and extra work.
  • Litigated a multi-million dollar differing site condition and delay claim for a private contractor against Caltrans.
  • Tried a complex delay claim arising out of a military airport expansion, resulting in a compensable time extension of more than 150 days. See Appeals of Dick Pacific Constr. Co., Ltd., 2016-1 BCA ¶36,196 (ASBCA 2016).
  • Represented the general contractor on a high-rise federal office building in California, prosecuting a $50 million delay and disruption claim against the government and defending multiple subcontractor lawsuits.
  • Prosecuted delay, disruption, and extra work claims on behalf of a general contractor on new convention center. Obtained imposition of evidentiary sanctions against project owner for destruction of evidence. See Clark Constr. Group v. City of Memphis, 229 F.R.D. 131 (W.D. Tenn. 2005).
  • Arbitrated design defect claims arising out of a seismic renovation of a hospital in Southern California.
  • Recovered millions of dollars on behalf of environmental contractor for hazardous materials clean-up work after Hurricane Katrina.
  • Private arbitration of disputes between prime contractor and subcontractor arising from project for the federal government, following trial of claims against project owner.
  • Arbitrated claims for payment for extra work and schedule and productivity bonuses on behalf EPC contractor following the renovation of an ethanol plant.
  • Tried on behalf of a design-build contractor a design delay claim arising out of a munitions maintenance facility for the U.S. Air Force. See Appeal of ADT Construction Group, Inc., 09-2 BCA 34,200 (ASBCA 2009).
  • Obtained summary judgment for developer of Northern California office building in multi-party construction defect litigation.
  • Developed and mediated design defect claims on behalf of a wind turbine manufacturer performing as EPC contractor.
  • Prosecuted construction defect claims on behalf of a developer of a multi-unit office complex in Northern California.
  • Represented construction manager at risk on convention center renovation and expansion project in the Southwest, including preparation and negotiation of delay and disruption claims.
  • Arbitrated (to award) design defect claims assigned by owner against SMEP designer arising out of hospital project.
  • On hospital project, represented general contractor and surety in defense of delay, disruption, and extra work claims by electrical and instrumentation subcontractors (case settled during jury trial in Los Angeles Superior Court).
  • Drafted and negotiated EPC contract for an offshore media manufacturing facility.
  • Ongoing construction contract and strategic advice for owners and contractors.
  • Drafted and negotiated construction and design agreements on a variety of commercial projects.
  • Multi-state contractor and design professional licensing advice to various companies.
  • Fundamentals of Construction Law, 2nd Edition (Co-Editor, with L. Franklin Elmore and Lauren E. Catoe), published by ABA Forum on Construction Law (2013).
  • Construction Defects: Theories of Liability and Statutes of Repose, Chapter 11 of California Construction Contracts, Defects, and Litigation (co-author of annual updates with William Hale), published by Continuing Education of the Bar, California (2014 to present)
  • “Liability Theories and Defenses for Construction Defect Claims,” Chapter 3 of Construction Defects (ABA 2012). Co-authored with John Foust and Clark Thiel.
  • “Discovery and Use of Accounting Information and Experts in Construction Litigation and Arbitration,” in Construction Accounting (ABA 2010). Co-authored with Colin A. Johns.
  • “Government Bid Protests,” in Construction Checklists: A Guide to Frequently Encountered Construction Issues (ABA 2008). Co-authored with W. Samuel Niece.
  • “Complying with Licensing and Registration Laws,” in Construction Checklists: A Guide to Frequently Encountered Construction Issues (ABA 2008). Co-authored with Paul W. Berning.
  • “How to Avoid Delays and Delay Claims on Wind Power Projects,” North American Windpower (2005).
  • Schedules and Time Impact Issues: Changes and Differing Site Conditions, presented at the Regional Meeting of the ABA Forum on Construction Law (2016)
  • “You Can’t Take My Equipment (Non-Traditional Construction Law Remedies),” presented at the Annual Meeting of the ABA Forum on Construction Law (with James H. Landgraf) (2015).
  • “The Fundamentals of Construction Law” (Co-Chair, with Melissa A. Beutler and Lisa Colon Heron), ABA Forum on Construction Law (2013).
  • “Infrastructure: Civil Works Projects for Lawyers” (Regional Coordinator for San Francisco Program, with Ben Patrick), ABA Forum on Construction Law (2012).
  • “California Construction Payment Remedies” (with W. Samuel Niece), Lorman Seminars (2010).
  • “Construction Documentation: Preparing Effective Job Records” (with Clark Thiel), Lorman Seminars (2010).
  • “Post Construction Claims” (with Bruce Gerhardt), Lorman Seminars (2009).
  • “Changes and Differing Site Conditions,” Contracts Program of the ABA Forum on the Construction Industry (2008).
  • “New AIA Documents,” Lorman Seminars (2008).
  • “California Mechanics Liens and Other Construction Law Remedies,” Lorman Seminars (2007).
  • “A Comprehensive Guide to Resolving Construction Disputes in California,” Lorman Seminars, (2003).
  • “E Tools: Time for a Legal Check-Up,” Engineering & Construction Contracting Conference, American Institute of Chemical Engineering (2002).
  • “Contractor Documentation During the Job to Support Claims,” Various Groups (2001).
  • “Legal Aspects of Web Based Project Controls and Electronic Documents,” Western Council of Construction Consumers (2001).
  • “Making, Defending and Winning Construction Claims for Contractors and Owners,” in association with BNi Publishing (2000–2001).
  • “Resolving Construction Disputes – Litigation, Arbitration and Mediation,” in association with BNi Publishing (2000–2001).

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