James P. Chivilo

James P. Chivilo


James P. Chivilo is an attorney who concentrates his practice in the areas of law involving construction, insurance, property and mechanic lien. Mr. Chivilo is a member of Holland & Knight's Chicago Litigation Group and National Construction Industry Practice Group.

Mr. Chivilo's legal experience focuses on the representation of construction industry members in construction contract procurements, disputes, litigation, claims and project failures in state and federal trial courts, proceedings before governmental agencies and arbitration and mediation tribunals. He has represented private and public owners, property developers, industrial road contractors, general contractors, construction managers, specialty contractors and subcontractors, underground contractors, municipalities, governmental entities, banks and private equity lenders, in situations involving corporate representation, claim administration, project management, multijurisdictional 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 failures and claims, including delay, design, scheduling, defect, finance, funding, payment structures and project financial workouts; construction industry union and pension fund liability disputes; labor and employment issues; Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and pension fund liability in the context of corporate merger, acquisition, transfer and sale; analysis of minority, disadvantage and veteran business enterprise qualification, certification and auditing; representation of clients with claims for projects and disputes in bankruptcy court; federal Miller Act, state mechanic lien and bond claims; insurance coverage claim management and disputes; post-trial judgment prosecution involving asset and corporate liquidation; 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 and project developments, luxury private homes, airports, senior and low-income housing developments, tollway and road systems, interstate and local highway construction, underground utilities, energy utilities, hydroelectric power plants, underground tunneling, horizontal boring and directional drilling, and other projects related to both public and private construction work.

Mr. Chivilo is a member of the firm's Construction practice that received a top-tier ranking by The Legal 500 United States guide for 2021 and a high ranking in the 2021 edition of Chambers USA.

Prior to joining Holland & Knight, Mr. Chivilo's practice involved the representation of 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 insurance issues involving builders risk, commercial general liability, employment, property, equipment, business interruption and various other types of insurance policies in resolving claim disputes. This experience has involved matters when he consulted clients on policy reviews and insurance coverage audits for corporate risk management, projects and other claims.

In 2013-2014, he served as the chair of the Chicago Bar Association Construction and Mechanic Lien Law Committee and oversaw the subcommittee responsible for the drafting and preparation of legislation for the amendments and changes to the Illinois Mechanic Lien Act to allow the surety bonding of lien claims under Illinois law.

From 1998-1999, Mr. Chivilo held a clerkship for the Chief Judge of DuPage County. In that capacity he took part in preparing an internal county wide policy regarding issues related to electronic e-mail distribution and internet use for the county government.

Representative Experience

  • Served as co-counsel for two HVAC contractors, the appellees, in a mechanics lien case before the Illinois Second District Appellate Court. Appellee counsel's collective argument that the receiver has the authority to issue priority certificates for tenant improvements that will supersede mechanics lien claimants prevailed on appeal. The Second District Appellate Court ruling is a landmark decision in Illinois for mechanics lien cases where a receiver is appointed.
  • Representing a receiver as special counsel in litigation involving the receiver's effort to recover assets from a defaulting data center tenant, including a $35 million collection matter on behalf of the receiver and the receiver's estate.
  • Retained by scaffolding contractor in pension fund liability and audit dispute relating to scope and interpretation of work under collective bargaining agreement performed by various warehouse employees and defended multimillion-dollar pension fund audit claim.
  • Represented excavation contractor in ERISA pension fund partial withdrawal liability claim against international union and pension fund. Participated in structured amendment to bargaining agreement to facilitate claim workout and resolution.
  • Assisted in representation of owner of $15 million claim under international builders risk policy relating to project flood failures involving analysis of various domestic and international policy provisions relating to protective safeguard endorsements.
  • 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 defect and design claims.
  • Represented commercial national big box store 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 corporate construction joint venture in property damage insurance claims against national insurance company 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 for cause which involved construction project financial close and work 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.
  • 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 underground utility contractor in prosecuting project payment, finance, 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.


  • University of Illinois Chicago School of Law, J.D., cum laude
  • Benedictine University, B.A., Political Science, cum laude
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • Illinois
Court Admissions
  • All State Courts in Illinois
  • 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 and Mechanic Lien Law Committee, Chair, 2013-2014
  • Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association
  • Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA)
  • Deep Foundations Institute (DFI)
  • Builders Association
  • Associated General Contractors of America
  • Chicago Building Congress
  • Underground Contractors Association
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • DuPage County Bar Association
Honors & Awards
  • Holland & Knight, Pro Bono All Star, 2007, 2008, 2014-2018, 2020
  • Benedictine University Alumni Top 40 Professionals Under 40, January 2013
  • Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association, Chairman Advisory Council Emerging Leader, May 2012
  • American Bar Association, Defending Liberty Pursuing Justice Commendation, Detention Center Standards Implementation Project, June 2004
Spoken Languages
  • English
  • Italian
  • Spanish


Speaking Engagements