Trent Cotney, P.A. at work: Blue collar construction lawyers focus on the industry they know from personal experience

    Trent Cotney
    Trent Cotney

    Florida Construction News special feature

    Based on a long, personal history, Trent Cotney P.A. describes itself as a blue collar legal firm uniquely representing the construction industry. Through offices in Tampa, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tallahassee, South Florida, and Mobile, AL, the team focuses on several construction specific practice areas, including roofing law.

    President Trent Cotney grew up with a family who worked in construction and he was employed in the industry while attending school. When he began to practice law in the late 1990s, he started by representing roofing contractors and suppliers. Over time, his involvement in the industry and related associations grew.

    Cotney was among the inaugural law class to be certified specifically in construction law. He maintains a subspecialty in roofing law.

    “The best way to represent, advise and argue for roofing contractors is to know how to build a roof, to know the job from all sides, and to know the law,” he says. “I don’t need the ins and outs of the industry explained, or the process involved, because I’ve actually done it.”

    Building his firm, which he formed in 2012 and that now has 12 attorneys, he sought the same kind of expertise and personal experience in his colleagues. He says each lawyer has experience in the field because “you can teach anyone the legal aspect but you can’t give proper advice unless you know the business.”

    Today, the team handles construction litigation and arbitration, lien and bond claims, alternative dispute resolution, bid protests, license defense, contract review and drafting, employment law, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defense.

    Cotney has developed expertise in OSHA defense, and has published an Amazon best-selling book titled OSHA Defense for the Construction Industry. “We can assist contractors in their defense and represent employers against charges.”

    Beyond lawyers who know the industry, Cotney has also spent years developing a network of suppliers, manufacturers and others in the know. Understanding who to call or to connect with, he says, ensures he gets the information and action his clients may need to clarify questions that arise and keep jobs running.

    “Representing the construction industry is truly what we love, it is who we are and what we do,” he said. “There are a lot of lawyers focused on construction work, representing the owner, or the insurer, but very few who defend and advocate for the industry as we do.”
    Cotney says team members advocate for the industry on a basis of humility and collegiality. “Construction is in all of our roots. An ethic of hard work, an understanding of the people and of the work, is part of who we are and will always be the basis under which we operate.”

    Trent Cotney P.A. represents clients ranging from small, family owned operations, to publicly traded companies. Cotney speaks at various roofing contractor events on topics ranging from OSHA defenses to crisis management.

    He publishes regular articles in industry magazines, is a Florida CILB certified continuing education provider, and is involved in helping develop roofing friendly building codes and statutes.

    “We try to give back to the industry personally and professionally, by providing pro bono services to construction associations and donating to industry charities,” Cotney said.
    Cotney’s commitment to his clients, and the flexibility a firm of his size carries, means he is able to be creative, offering fixed price or monthly fixed fees for clients, and thinks outside the box to ensure the team is meeting the clients’ needs the best way possible.

    That commitment also extends to offering clients leading edge and easy to use technologies supporting information security.

    Cotney is general counsel for the National Women in Roofing (NWIR), and the Florida Roofing & Sheet Metal Association (FRSA), among others. He has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Gold Circle Award for service from the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), the OSHA Defense Law Firm of the Year, and Most Outstanding Construction Lawyer.

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