This award is the highest honor given to a deserving individual each year at the Annual Convention in June. The SIR Award recipient exemplifies these values embraced by the AGC organization and has consistently demonstrated outstanding service, industry leadership, and involvement in the community.
On June 13, 2017, Philip Edward (“Phil”) Beck, a partner in the Atlanta office of the nationally-recognized law firm Smith, Currie & Hancock LLP (“Smith Currie”), will receive the 2017 AGC Georgia SIR Award. Phil will be the third construction attorney to receive this prestigious Award, and only the sixth recipient who is not a general contractor. While Phil, like most attorneys, is seldom at a loss for words, he was rendered speechless when informed that he had been selected to receive this Award. Phil considers this Award a tremendous honor, not because of what it says about him, but because of the extremely high regard he has for: AGC, the distinguished SIR Award recipients who have preceded him, and his many AGC friends and clients who he is confident will receive this Award in future years.
Phil was born in Salisbury, North Carolina, on November 8, 1956, as the oldest of two children of Ed and Dot Beck. Phil and his sister, Tammy, grew up primarily in Chattanooga, Tennessee, less than a mile from the Georgia state line. His father, Ed, was a maintenance foreman for Southern Railway; and his mother, Dot, worked for many years preparing tax returns for H&R Block. Growing up and in junior high and high school, Phil played football, baseball, and tennis. In his pre-teen years, Phil was a successful left-handed pitcher, whose father always made time to catch and coach him in the backyard. Unfortunately, Phil’s pitching career peaked at 12 years old. Phil was also active in Boy Scouts, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout at the age of 13 (largely due to the encouragement of his parents). Phil worked part-time during the school year and full-time on Christmas and summer breaks from the time he turned 16 up until he joined Smith Currie.
Upon graduating from high school in 1974, Phil attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville on a Southern Railway National Merit Scholarship. While in college, Phil formed a number of life-long friendships with fraternity brothers at Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity, in which Phil served as an officer. Having known since junior high school that he intended to pursue a legal career (when his mother used to tell him, in response to his efforts to talk himself out of trouble, that he “ought to be a lawyer”), Phil also served as the Chair of the Student Traffic Appeals Board, and was named “Outstanding Sophomore” by the UT Inter-Fraternity Council. He was also elected to the business honorary fraternity Beta Gamma Sigma and the service honorary fraternity Omicron Delta Kappa.
Phil graduated from UT, with high honors, with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 1978, and declined a scholarship to the University of Georgia Law School (which Phil concedes, in hindsight, was a risky decision, given that he knew then he wanted to end up in Atlanta) to remain at UT, where he enrolled in the JD/MBA Joint Degree Program in the Fall of 1978. While in law school, Phil was a semifinalist in the school’s Advocate’s Prize Moot Court Competition and was selected as a member of the school’s Moot Court Board. Phil received both his law degree and his Master of Business Administration Degree (with a concentration in Finance) from UT in 1981, graduating number 4 in his law school class. Phil was also named to the legal honorary society Order of the Coif. During his second year of law school, Phil also worked part time for a law firm in Knoxville, Tennessee; and he worked part-time during his third year of law school as a law clerk for the Honorable Houston Goddard, a member of the Tennessee Court of Appeals.
Phil first became aware of Smith Currie when he interviewed with the firm at the beginning of his second year of law school, as he began contacting Atlanta law firms about the possibility of a summer clerkship. before interviewing with Smith Currie, Phil did not know there was any such thing as a “construction lawyer”, and he had no prior construction, engineering, or related experience. Phil was favorably impressed with the attorneys he met at Smith Currie and the firm culture of this law firm co-founded by prior SIR Award recipient Overton Currie, and decided to give construction law a try. Phil clerked for Smith Currie during the Summer of 1980 and returned to Atlanta in the Fall of 1981 to become a full-time attorney at Smith Currie, where Phil has now practiced construction law continuously for more than 35 years.
Phil is a member of the Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida Bars and the bars of various state and federal courts. He has represented clients in connection with a broad range of construction issues, problems, and disputes arising out of both public and private construction projects throughout the United States and abroad. He has also drafted and reviewed thousands of design and construction contracts. And, he has served as a construction arbitrator and mediator as well.
Early in Phil’s legal career at Smith Currie, he became active in AGC – initially AGC Georgia (then known as Georgia Branch, AGC), and later AGC of America. Phil has, on occasion, provided legal representation to both AGC Georgia and AGC of America; but most of his work with AGC has been volunteer work. Phil is a past member of the AGC Georgia Board of Directors, having served as Chair of its Associate Members Division, a long-time member of its Legislative Committee, and a member of various other committees and task forces. Phil was named one of AGC Georgia’s Volunteers of the Year for 2014-2015.
Phil is a past Chair of AGC of America’s Service & Supply Council and a past member of AGC of America’s Executive Board (2006-2008). He also served as Vice Chair and then Chair of AGC of America’s Contract Documents Forum (2009-2016) and was recognized as AGC of America’s 2014 Chair of the Year. Since 2015, Phil has been a Life Governor on AGC’s Board of Governors and a member of the AGC Education and Research Foundation Board of Directors. While Chair of AGC’s Contract Documents Forum, Phil also served a term as Chair of the ConsensusDocs Content Advisory Council (the drafters of the ConsensusDocs contract forms), a Council he served on from 2009 to 2016.
Trying to follow in Overton Currie’s footsteps and following the example of many Smith Currie attorneys, Phil has written and lectured extensively on various topics related to the construction industry and construction law, and has been a featured speaker on numerous programs and seminars sponsored by various educational institutions and construction trade associations, including AGC. He has also served as an adjunct professor of Construction Law at what was then Southern Polytechnic State University, as well as a guest lecturer at Georgia Tech. Phil is a regular speaker on AGC of America’s Project Manager Course (“PMC”) and Advanced Management Program (“AMP”), as well as BIM Courses offered by both AGC Georgia and Carolinas AGC. He also recently spoke on AGC Georgia’s Supervisory Training Program (STP) in Dublin, Georgia.
Phil has been ranked as a “Georgia Super Lawyer” by the publications Law & Politics and Atlanta Magazine each year of the ranking’s existence. He is also listed annually by Chambers USA in its listing of “America’s Leading Lawyers for Business” and in the publications The Best Lawyers in America and The International Who’s Who of Construction Lawyers. He has received Martindale Hubbell’s highest peer rating for both legal ability and ethical standards (the AV Preeminent Rating) for 35 consecutive years.
Phil is happily married to the love of his life, Debbie Alexander Beck. Between them, Phil and Debbie have three wonderful children (Phil’s daughter Allison Beck Dean, and Debbie’s children, Angela Lauren Burton and Alex Pound), two terrific sons-in-law (Dustin Dean and Zack Burton), and one adorable grandchild, to date (Ivy Jean Burton). Tragically, Phil’s son, Andrew Eller Beck, a graduate of the University of Alabama, where he played lacrosse and received a degree in Mechanical Engineering, passed away in 2015, at the age of 28; but he is fondly and proudly remembered and lives on in spirit and as a constant inspiration to Phil to be the best person he can be.
Phil is a sports enthusiast, and an avid University of Tennessee (he bleeds orange) and Atlanta Braves fan. When not working, Phil also enjoys playing golf in his standing Sunday afternoon foursome (all of whom, except Phil, are Georgia Tech graduates) at Capital City Club, regardless of the weather, and with his AGC friends at AGC events. Phil and Debbie also enjoy spending weekends at their mountain cabin (named in honor of Phil’s parents) in Big Canoe, as well as spending time with family, whenever possible.
Phil’s career-long association with AGC and his many friends and clients whom he has come to know through AGC have greatly enriched his life and his personal and professional development, making him grateful beyond words for the SIR Award he will receive.
AGC Georgia proudly recognizes the professional and civic achievements of Mr. Beck. Together with 2016-2017 AGC Georgia President Randy Hall, we are honored to present Mr. Beck with a SIR Award during our 2017 Annual Convention in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.