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Pillsbury Pillsbury Pillsbury
San Francisco
Four Embarcadero Center
22nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111-5998
Tel. +1.415.983.1543
Fax. +1.415.983.1200

Los Angeles
725 South Figueroa Street
Suite 2800
Los Angeles, CA 90017-5406
Tel. +1.213.488.7100
Fax. +1.213.629.1033
State of California
District of Columbia
State of Maryland
J.D., University of California, Hastings College of the Law, 1980
Order of the Coif, Thurston Honor Society, Senior Editor, Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly
B.S.C.E., The Catholic University of America, 1976
Tau Beta Pi


John R. Heisse

John R. Heisse

John Heisse is a partner in the law firm's Litigation practice and is located in the San Francisco and Los Angeles offices. He focuses on serving the construction industry, representing domestic and international builders, owners, developers and designers in every phase of public and private construction, from initial planning through dispute resolution. He was described as "possibly the number one construction lawyer of his generation…" by The US Legal 500 in 2010, and was named as one of the top ten international construction lawyers by Who's Who Legal in 2013.

Mr. Heisse is the immediate past chair of Pillsbury's Construction Counseling & Dispute Resolution team, and is currently the leader of the group’s California practice. He co-chaired the team awarded the 2008 and 2010 Chambers USA Award for Excellence in Construction Law. This award recognizes the best construction law practice in the US based on evaluation in several areas, including technical legal ability, professional conduct, client service, commercial astuteness, diligence, commitment, and other qualities most valued by clients.

Mr. Heisse is a member of the Board of Governors and the co-chair of the Public Contracts Committee of the American College of Construction Lawyers, and a former Chair of the ABA Forum on the Construction Industry. He currently serves on the National Leadership Council of the ACE Mentor Program and is Chair of the Executive Board of The Catholic University of America School of Engineering, his alma mater.
Representative Matters
  • Panama Canal Expansion Project. Advised the Panama Canal Authority on the selection of appropriate project delivery methods, phasing and contracting strategies for this $5 billion project, consisting of the construction of new sets of locks at the Atlantic and Pacific ends of the canal, the excavation of new canal sections to access the Pacific locks, and the dredging of both the inland and oceanside waterways. (Panama City, Panama)
  • Solar Electric Generating Facilities System (SEGS). Represented the BOM contractor in arbitration of a dispute with the developer of the first segment of the nation's largest solar field. The dispute involved the failure of the solar field to achieve warranted production efficiencies, which resulted in a dramatic reduction of power generated. Since the payment for O&M services was pegged to power generated, this underperformance resulted in significant operating losses for the contractor. The arbitration involved complex engineering issues of thermodynamics and energy conversion. (Mojave Desert (Daggett), California)
  • Desalinated Water Pipeline Failure. Represented an EPCM contractor in ICDR arbitration with an owner after the catastrophic failure of the internal lining in over 100 miles of water pipeline. (Santiago, Chile)
  • Citizens Bank Ballpark. Represented a general contractor for the construction of the home of the Philadelphia Phillies in the resolution of subcontractor claims for delay, disruption and extra work. The claims of all but one subcontractor were resolved amicably; shortly before the commencement of trial for the remaining dispute, the parties agreed to transfer the dispute from the local trial court to a private arbitration proceeding before agreed-upon neutral arbitrators. The case was successfully resolved through a multi-week arbitration. (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
  • St. John's Health Center. Represented a general contractor and its surety during construction of a roughly $200 million central plant and inpatient building. Worked closely during construction with the contractor's team to identify and resolve disputes where possible, and ultimately settled close-out disputes with the owner, designers, construction manager and dozens of subcontractors. Also represented the completing surety in a trial against the controls subcontractor and an arbitration with the MEP designer. (Santa Monica, California)
  • Commerce Club Hotel and Casino. Represented a general contractor and its surety in developing and resolving claims for additional scope, alleged defects, delay and disruption between the contractor and the owner as well as between the contractor and dozens of subcontractors. Successfully resolved all claims prior to commencement of trial. (Commerce, California)
  • Honolulu Area Rapid Transit (HART). Represented the city and county of Honolulu in litigation with a contractor following the cancellation of a planned $2.2 billion rapid transit system after the initial phase of project development had been performed. (Honolulu, Hawaii)
  • Sky Valley Project. Represented a large Japanese home builder in arbitration of a complex construction dispute involving landslide repair and civil engineering work at a large, high-end residential and golf course project constructed on seismically active land. This arbitration centered on issues of geotechnical engineering and soils analysis. (Vallejo, California)
  • University of California's Mt. Zion Outpatient Cancer Center. Represented an owner against contractor claims on a multi-prime contract involving 42 trades and construction of a state-of-the-art cancer center. Successfully resolved all issues and closed all contracts without litigation. (San Francisco, California)
  • Projects at the University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco. Represented a public owner in disputes arising on several projects, including seismic upgrade projects involving defective design, and disputes with contractors on hospital, student housing, and mixed use facility projects on both the Berkeley and San Francisco campuses. (Berkeley and San Francisco, California)
  • PETCO Park. Assisted in the negotiation and drafting of design-build contracts between the City of San Diego and the San Diego Ballpark Builders joint venture for the construction of the home of the San Diego Padres. (San Diego, California)
Honors & Awards
  • Best Lawyers in America, Lawyer of the Year, Construction - San Francisco (2014)
  • Chambers USA, Construction—California (2004-2014)
  • Best Lawyers in America, Construction Law, Litigation – Construction (10+ years)
  • Legal 500 US, Construction—Leading Lawyer (2007-2014)
  • PLC Which Lawyer?, Construction—San Francisco & Silicon Valley (2011-2012)
  • Who's Who Legal, Construction—California (2005-2013)
  • Best of the Best USA, Construction, Euromoney/Legal Media Group (2012)
  • Guide to the World's Leading Construction Litigation Lawyers, Euromoney/Legal Media Group (2011)
  • Super Lawyers, Top 100 Lawyers in Northern California (2009-2010, 2012-2013)

American College of Construction Lawyers, 2005 – Present (Board of Governors, 2012 – Present; Co-Chair, Public Contract Committee, 2010 – Present)

American Bar Association, Forum on the Construction Industry, 1985 – Present (Chair, 2003 –2004; other leadership positions, 1995 – 2003)

American Bar Association, Public Contract Law Section, 1985 – Present (Chair, Construction Claims Committee, 1998 – 1999, Vice Chair, 1995 – 1997)

American Bar Foundation, Fellow

Community Service

Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (Founder, Board Member, 1994 – 2003, 2013 - present; Chair, 1994 – 1997)

ACE Mentor Program (National Board Member, 2007 – 2010; Leadership Circle, 2010 – present)

Catholic University of America, School of Engineering (Executive Board, 2007 – Present; Chair, 2013 - present)

San Francisco Bar Association Early Settlement Program (Mediator, 2004 – present)

American Arbitration Association, National Panel of Construction Arbitrators (Arbitrator)

Presentations/Speaking Engagements
“The Threshold Approval to Evaluation Design Professional Liability, a Point/Counterpoint,” American College of Construction Lawyers (2014).

"Imposing and Meeting Pre-Qualification Requirements: How to Handle Protests." Construction Superconference (2011).

"Ethical Problems in Federal Contracts." American College of Construction Lawyers (2011).

"Attracting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce." Associated General Contractors of California (2008).

"Risk Allocation in Standard Form Agreements: Who’s the Fairest of Them All?" ABA Forum of the Construction Industry (2006). Moderator

"Forensic Scheduling and the As-Built Delay Analysis." Construction Superconference (2006). Panelist

"Construction Law for Accountants." California CPA Foundation (2004).

"Fundamentals of Construction Law." ABA Forum of the Construction Industry (2002).

"Best Value Procurement and Other Alternatives to the Lowest Responsible Bidder." Associated Builders and Contractors (2001).

"Proving Damages Through Lay and Expert Witnesses." ABA Forum of the Construction Industry (1999).

"The Accountant’s Role in Litigation." AICPA National Conference (1998, 2000).

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