Joel J Rhiner’s practice for the past twenty-eight years has been in construction law matters, including design-defect related actions, delay and disruption claims, labor productivity, contract interpretation, drafting of contracts, differing site conditions, surety bond and mechanics lien claims, construction-related personal injury and other construction-related breach of contract matters.  Mr. Rhiner also has significant commercial litigation experience.

Key Professional Accomplishments

Mr. Rhiner has extensive trial experience on behalf of owners, engineers, architects, contractors and subcontractors involving a variety of projects, including highways and roadways, electrical power plants, wastewater treatment facilities, commercial buildings and commercial rail. A sampling of cases that Mr. Rhiner has tried or arbitrated include the following:

  • 6 month bench trial including litigation of approximately $40 million in claims on behalf of Owner involving construction of high end resort hotel/condominiums
  • 1 month arbitration of approximately $25 million in claims relating to the construction of a power plant
  • 3 week arbitration of approximately $100 million in claims involving the design, construction and performance of a chemical plant
  • 3 week federal jury trial of approximately $10 million in claims arising out of the alleged breach of an environmental remediation services contract
  • 2 week arbitration of approximately $25 million in claims involving the design and construction of a reverse osmosis water purification plant
  • 2 week jury trial relating to the alleged breach of a real estate development services contract


Contributions to construction law literature made by Mr. Rhiner include:
  • Co-authored “The Wrong Words Can Cost You,” The Builder (March 2007)
  • Co-authored “Challenging The Finality of An Executed Change Order,” Aspen Publications (Summer 2005)
  • Co-authored “Limiting Liability in Payment Certifications,” Construction Specifier (October 2003)
  • Co-authored “Enforcing Letters of Intent and Handshake Agreements,” ABA Construction Lawyer (April 2000)
Mr. Rhiner’s presentations include:
  • “Termination of Construction Contracts; Mechanics and Pitfalls,” SOICA, May 16, 2017
  • “Breaking Up is Hard to Do: It’s Gut Check Time,” ABA Forum on the Construction Industry, 2014 Fall Meeting
  • “Drafting Effective, Enforceable Consulting Expert Agreements to Protect and Maintain Privileges at Various States of Project / Litigation,” ABA Forum on the Construction Industry, April 13, 2011
  • “Cover Your Assets: Protecting Rights on a Project Through Use of Mechanics Liens,” Solomon, Cordwell and Buenz, Chicago, IL, December 8, 2004
  • “Anatomy of Risk Shifting: Analyzing and Enforcing Indemnity Agreements,” Stein, Ray & Harris LLP’s 13th Annual Symposium for Design Professionals, March 11, 2004
  • “Surety and Insurance Beyond,” ICPAS Construction Conference, Oakbrook, IL, October 31, 2002
  • “Risky Business: State Licensing and Registration,” Stein, Ray & Harris’ 11th Annual Symposium for Design Professionals, March 21, 2002
  • “Covering Your Assets: How to Protect Your Design Professional Fees,” Stein, Ray & Harris’ 9th Annual Symposium for Design Professionals, February 10, 2000
  • “Exposures from Certifications of Payments,” Stein, Ray & Harris’ 5th Annual Symposium for Design Professionals, February 9, 1996
Additionally, Mr. Rhiner has addressed a number of different contractors and subcontractors concerning construction law and litigation issues, including such organizations as the Builder’s Association of Greater Chicago.

Authoritative Credentials

  • Illinois Super Lawyers 2007-2020
  • Best Lawyers in America 2013-2020
  • Who’s Who Among America’s Top Construction Lawyers
  • Legal 500 USA
  • Selected as a Member of the Society of Illinois Construction Attorneys (SOICA)

Professional, Business and Civic Affiliations

  • Member of Federal Trial Bar
  • American Bar Association
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Iowa State Bar Association
  • Chicago Bar Association
  • Forum on the Construction Industry of the American Bar Association – Division 4 Steering Committee Member
  • Lecturer of Construction Law at the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law


Mr. Rhiner received his Juris Doctor from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1990.  Mr. Rhiner served as an editor on the UCLA Law Review.  Mr. Rhiner received his undergraduate degree, Summa Cum Laude, from the University of Iowa in 1987 in Political Science and Economics.