James P. Chivilo is a partner who concentrates his practice in the areas of construction, insurance, property and mechanic lien law, as well as general commercial litigation. Mr. Chivilo is a member of Holland & Knight's Litigation Group and National Construction Industry Practice Group. 

He practices in state and federal trial courts and before arbitration and mediation tribunals. Mr. Chivilo focuses on the representation of private and public owners, property developers, international and national big-box chain stores, joint ventures, industrial road contractors, excavation companies, road construction contractors, concrete companies, international and national general construction and management companies, underground contractors, utility contractors, municipalities, governmental entities, banks, lenders, construction companies, material suppliers, title insurance companies, corporations, partnerships and individuals in situations involving claim administration, project management, complex litigation and dispute resolution.

For his clients, Mr. Chivilo's practice involves reviewing, negotiating, drafting and preparing construction contracts and change orders; preparing and consulting clients in bid protests; contract claim management; prosecution and defense of project claims, including delay, design, scheduling and defect claims; construction and transportation industry labor and employment issues; prosecution and defense for clients involving substantial building and project failures; consulting and representing clients in project completion and workouts for underfunded projects; representation for clients with claims for projects in bankruptcy court; prosecution and defense of federal and state mechanic lien, bond and contract claims; prosecution of claims against large insurance companies for coverage of claims and claim reimbursement and payment for claims; post-trial judgment prosecution involving corporate liquidation for satisfaction of claims; experience in federal court in the Northern, Central and Southern Districts of Illinois; appearing and representing clients in various judicial county circuit courts throughout Illinois; appearing before arbitration tribunals, mediation panels and third-party neutrals in claim dispute resolution; and providing general construction and key legal and related business consulting advice to industry clients.

Additionally, he has represented clients in projects that involved high-rise hotels, mixed-use developments, condominium projects, major tenant occupied high-rise buildings, big box chain stores, water management and retention systems, commercial high-rise building development and foreclosure, multistory commercial and residential buildings, large residential and commercial developments, luxury private homes, airports, senior and low-income housing developments, tollway and road systems, interstate and local highway construction, underground utilities, energy utilities, underground tunneling, horizontal boring and directional drilling, and other projects related to both public and private construction work.

Of special note, Mr. Chivilo recently completed a jury trial involving a water conduit and product claims on behalf of a construction industry HVAC contractor. The case involved defending the contractor against alleged construction negligence installation and product malfunction claims and from significant property damage liability to a Chicago high-rise building.

Prior to joining Holland & Knight, Mr. Chivilo worked for a Chicago law firm where he represented several national and international insurance companies in matters relating to insurance coverage, construction, general tort and commercial law issues. This experience has allowed him to represent and consult clients through the complex arena of securing insurance coverage through various types of insurance policies for reimbursement to his clients for legal fees and payments on behalf of clients under insurance policies for indemnification of project and contract related claims. He has litigated disputes that involve prosecuting insurance claims against large insurance companies and also consulted clients in insurance coverage audits for project and other claims. 

In addition, from 1998-1999, Mr. Chivilo held a clerkship for the chief judge of DuPage County. In that capacity, he took part in preparing a plan and drafting an internal county- wide policy regarding privacy issues relating to e-mail use and distribution of electronic information in the government sector.

Representative Experience

  • Retained by industrial road excavation contractor to defend contractor in state and federal court in multi-party environmental land site lawsuit. Defended contractor against $14 million Illinois Environmental Protection Agency environmental property damage claim. Represented contractor against issues relating to description and definition of what constitutes "waste" under Illinois Environmental Protection Act and defended claims in federal and state court. Participated in three mediations with federal court judge and litigated case against IEPA through preparation for trial and secured court orders in state court before trial against IEPA barring witnesses and other evidence triggering favorable settlement for client.  
  • Represented contractors in state and federal court insurance coverage litigation to secure insurance coverage from contractor's carriers for payments of defense costs, legal fees and indemnity for construction project issues and project environmental claims against the contractor.
  • Represented international general contractor and project management company from high-rise hotel owner's property damage claims alleging building façade and curtain wall material defect claims. Represented general contractor in multiple party two day mediation and in state court defense of claims.
  • Represented commercial food chain owner in defense of general contract and construction project claims, and structured construction project workout after discovery of general contractor payment fraud scheme, construction defects and contractor insolvencies. Representation resulted in termination and settlement of contract and mechanic lien claims by insolvent general contractor's subcontractors and suppliers.
  • Represented joint venture contractor in property damage insurance coverage claims against national insurance company in tender of construction related property damage claims to insurance company. Representation resulted in securing insurance coverage to defend contractor against claims and for indemnity for insurer to pay for potential damages for more than 200 property damage claims under commercial general liability policy. Advocated arguments that multiple blasting events were similar, consistent and continuous occurrence of the same event triggering coverage under policies. 
  • Represented public municipal governmental corporation in complex multi-claimant government construction contract litigation resulting in contract termination for convenience and cause involving construction contract work out and project close out with more than 100 claimants and claims in excess of $4 million.
  • Assisted in representation of owner of multiple story commercial retail center in prosecuting claims against general contractor and building designers for building envelope failures resulting in water and mold infiltration and prosecuted building property damage claims resulting in settlements for owner in excess of $3 million.
  • Represented lender in foreclosure of commercial property and secured summary judgment resulting in dismissal of multiple mechanic liens against project citing lien defects, affirmed on appeal by the Illinois Appellate Court in an unpublished opinion.
  • Retained by international discount supermarket chain for defense of multi-jurisdictional and multi-claimant construction project litigation and defended and secured dismissal of delay claims, payment claims and claims for extras and changes in excess of $750,000.
  • Part of litigation team that represented underground deep tunnel contractor in deep tunnel construction project and defended contractor against more than 200 private residential community housing property damage claims as part of underground blasting operations. 
  • Defended private commercial underground contractor against energy company's property damage and loss of use claims under Illinois Underground Utility Facility Damage Prevention Act before three-member arbitration panel. Secured arbitration award in favor of underground contractor and finding of no liability to energy company.
  • Represented private commercial utility contractor in prosecuting mechanic lien, contract and bond claims in multiple jurisdictions resulting in complete recovery of claims in excess of $1 million, including pre-judgment and post-judgment interest and attorneys' fees.


  • The John Marshall Law School, J.D., cum laude
  • Benedictine University, B.A., Political Science, cum laude
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • Illinois
Court Admissions
  • Illinois Supreme Court
  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • Chicago Bar Association Construction Law Bonding Subcommittee, 2013-2015
  • Chicago Bar Association, Construction and Mechanic Lien Committee, Chairman, 2013-2014; Vice Chairman, 2012-2013
  • Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association, Construction and Work Zone Safety Committee, Professional Services Committee, 2010-2014 
  • Builders Association Chicago, Charter Chapter Associated General Contractors of America
  • Chicago Building Congress
  • Underground Contractors Association
  • Illinois State Bar Association
Honors & Awards
  • Holland & Knight, Pro Bono All Star, Lost Boys of Sudan Immigration Project, 2013-2014
  • Benedictine University Alumni Top 40 Professionals Under 40, January 2013
  • Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association, Chairman Advisory Council Emerging Leader, May 2012
  • Holland & Knight, Pro Bono All Star, McNeal v. Avendano, 2008
  • Holland & Knight, Pro Bono All Star, Livsey v. JL Construction, 2007
  • American Bar Association, Defending Liberty Pursuing Justice Commendation, Detention Center Standards Implementation Project, June 2004
Spoken Languages
  • English
  • Italian
  • Spanish


Speaking Engagements