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Practicing Public Contracts Law

Public or government contracts law deals with the complex and specialized body of statutes and regulations that govern the acquisition of goods and services by the government. The federal government and each state government have their own rules and regulations governing procurement activities. Because the Government uses public funds in purchasing products and services crucial to military and civilian programs, the public has a significant interest in assuring that Government contractual transactions are fair and efficient. Public contracts law deals with such subjects as requirements for assuring adequate competition for government procurements; procedures for notifying potential contractors of government business opportunities; procedures for submitting bids for government contracts; criteria for selecting contractors; regulations governing performance of public contracts; and procedures for resolving disputes under public contracts.  
Public Contract Practice Opportunities
Public contracts practice is more specialized and, thus, the market is more limited than the general administrative law practice area. There is a heavy concentration of government contracts practitioners in the Washington, D.C. area. California is another area of heavy geographical concentration. Few small law firms practice in this area. Large and national law firms represent private entities that contract with the government. Government agencies (such as the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Health & Human Services) generally maintain legal departments. Private entities that contract with the government (e.g., defense contractors, construction contractors) also employ in-house counsel.
Typical Tasks Performed by Attorneys Practicing Public Contracts Law
A typical day for an attorney concentrating in public contract practice includes the following:
  • Advising clients on the procedures for submitting bids for public contracts.
  • Advising clients regarding the regulations governing the performance of public contracts.
  • Representing clients in resolving disputes under public contracts.
  • Representing clients in bid protests.
  • Advising or representing clients with regard to criminal matters, such as fraud, bribery, and kickback violations.
  • Advising clients as to labor and employment law.
  • Advising clients with regard to bankruptcy issues. 
If you are looking for a comprehensive treatise that features extensive coverage of the law and regulation of the business of government contracting or federal acquisition and you have a subscription to, see Government Contracts: Law, Administration and Procedure, edited by Walter A.I. Wilson, which addresses nearly every aspect of government contract law and practice, with references to the history and policies underlying current principles as well as current references to applicable statutes, regulations and case decisions. More than a mere "case finder" or primary source compilation, this treatise provides a thorough discussion from experienced practitioners that places case law and regulations in the context most useful to attorneys, contract administrators and other professionals.