Lauren E. Rankins

(312) 219-6900

Lauren Rankins is a partner in Watt Tieder’s Chicago office. She focuses her national practice in the areas of construction and surety law, providing a full range of transactional and litigation services for her clients. Lauren represents owners, general contractors, construction managers, subcontractors and material suppliers in a variety of matters involving contract drafting and negotiation, bid protests, breach of contract claims, mechanic’s liens, and claims involving changes, differing site conditions, defective design, delay, disruption, acceleration and loss of productivity. Lauren also represents sureties in matters involving payment and performance bond claims on private and public projects, drafting and negotiation of takeover and tender agreements, and collateral and indemnity disputes.

Lauren has extensive experience in resolving disputes through the use of mediation, arbitration and other alternative dispute resolution techniques, as well as representing her clients in federal and state courts.

Lauren serves as the Co-Chair for the Midwest Surety & Construction Claims Conference. She is also a liaison for the American Bar Association Fidelity & Surety Law Committee Newsletter, and is recognized as an Emerging Leader for Construction Financial Management Association.

Lauren received her J.D., cum laude, from The John Marshall Law School at University of Illinois – Chicago in 2014. During law school, she was a Staff Editor for The John Marshall Law Review and Presiding Barrister for the Trial Advocacy & Dispute Resolution Honors Council. She was also recognized as part of the Dean’s List, a winner of the Dean Fred F. Herzog Moot Court Competition and a frequent competitor on a number of Mock Trial and Alternative Dispute Resolution competition teams. Prior to law school, Lauren attended The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where she was a four-year varsity intercollegiate athlete.

Honors & Awards

  • American Bar Association TIPS Leadership Academy 2023-2024 Program
  • Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA), Rising Stars – 2023

Memberships & Affiliations

  • American Bar Association
    • Vice-Chair of the Fidelity and Surety Law Committee of the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section (TIPS)
  • American Subcontractors Association – National (ASA)
  • Associated General Contractors of America (AGC)
    • Chicagoland Associated General Contractors (Chicagoland AGC)
  • Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA)
    • CFMA Chicago Chapter
  • Professional Women in Construction (PWC) Chicago Chapter
  • Society on Construction Law of North America (SCL-NA)

Speaking Engagements & Publications

  • Co-Chair and Presenter: Midwest Surety & Construction Claims Conference, 2019-2024.
  • Co-Speaker: “Construction Paperwork: Building With Forms And Files,” ABA FSLC Midwinter Meeting, January 2024.
  • Co-Author: “The Double Breasted-Dilemma”, Watt Tieder Building Solutions, Spring 2022.
  • Co-Speaker: “Ten Risk Management Maxims That Will Change Your Approach to Project Delivery”, AGC Conference, January 2022
  • Co-Speaker: “Decoding the Mystery of Productivity Claims,” 2022 Construction SuperConference, January 2022.
  • Co-Speaker: “Surety’s Performance Options on Federal Contracts”, Pearlman 2021, September 2021.
  • Co-Speaker: “The Contract Documents: Who is the Responsible Party and Avoiding Conflicts Presentation”, Midwest Surety & Construction Claims Conference, July 2021.
  • Co-Speaker: “Decoding the Mystery of Productivity Claims”, Associated General Contractors of America, 2021 Construction Risk Management Conference, June 2021.
  • Co-Speaker: “Tips for Sureties in Handling a Contractor Bankruptcy”, a Webinar Presented to Chubb Insurance Group, January 2021.
  • Co-Speaker: “Surety Financing, Cost to Complete Analysis & Closing Out Projects”, Westfield Insurance Company Annual Meeting, June 2020.
  • Co-Speaker: “Tips for a Surety Dealing with COVID-19”, Webinar to various sureties, April 2020.
  • Co-Speaker: “Blockchains: What Are They and How Will They Affect the Construction Industry”, Construction Financial Management Association Midwest Regional Conference, September 2019, April 2020.
  • Co-Author: Strict Interpretation of Contract, Watt Tieder, Hoffar & Fitzgerald L.L.P.’s Fifty State Survey of Key Issues Related to Construction & Engineering Contracts, 2015 – 2019.
  • Co-Speaker: “Ethical Considerations When Handling the Principal’s Claim”, Midwest Surety & Construction Claims Conference, July 2019.
  • Co-Speaker: “How to Handle and Mediate Claims When the Contractor Is Still Involved”, Midwest Surety & Construction Claims Conference, July 2019.
  • Panelist: “Risk of Construction Technology Implementation: From Cost to Liability”, United States Minority Contractors Association’s Construction Technology and Virtual Design Conference, April 2019.
  • Co-Author: “Payment Bond Defenses: To Pay, or Not to Pay, That is the Question,” National Association of Surety Bond Producers’ Surety Bond Quarterly, April 2018.
  • Co-Speaker: “Contract Dispute Resolution for Federal Projects,” November 2018.
  • Speaker: “Understanding Ethical Limitations During Settlement Negotiation,” Midwest Surety & Construction Claims Conference, July 2018.
  • Speaker: “Mechanics Lien Bond Claims”, Liberty Commercial Claims Conference, November 2017.
  • Co-Speaker: “Construction Documentation: Successfully Managing Risk and Preserving Claims,” Construction Financial Management Association Midwest Regional Conference, September 2017.
  • Co-Speaker: “Payment Bond Defenses,” Midwest Surety & Construction Claims Conference, July 2017.
  • Speaker: “Mechanic’s Lien Discharge Bonds”, 2022 Liberty Commercial Surety Claims Seminar, October 2022.
  • Speaker: “Deposition Preparation of Claim(s) Person,” Midwest Surety & Construction Claims Conference, July 2016.
  • Co-Speaker: “Ethics Primer – Federal Contracts, False Claims Act, and Surety Concerns,” Midwest Surety & Construction Claims Conference, July 2015.
  • Speaker: “Motor Vehicle and Public Adjuster Bonds,” Liberty Commercial Claims Conference, October 2015.
  • Co-Author: Case Note: When a Subdivision Bond Is More Than Just A Subdivision Bond—The Illinois Supreme Court’s Recent Decision in Lake County Grading Co., LLC v. Village of Antioch, The Newsletter of Watt, Tieder, Hoffar & Fitzgerald, L.L.P., Spring 2015.
  • Co-Speaker: “The Federal Government and the Performing Surety,” March 2015.
  • Co-Author: Illinois Construction Law, Watt Tieder Hoffar & Fitzgerald LLP, McLean, VA, HLK Global Communications, Inc., 2015.

Areas of Practice

  • Construction
  • Surety


  • The John Marshall Law School, J.D. 2014, cum laude
  • Staff Editor, The John Marshall Law Review
  • Dean’s List
  • Presiding Barrister, Trial Advocacy & Dispute Resolution Honors Council
  • The University of Wisconsin Whitewater, 2011

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims
  • All U.S. District Courts for the District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin