Karlee Starr Blank Associate

Karlee focuses her practice at the intersection of government contracts, investigations, regulatory compliance and enforcement, and construction and finance. She combines her international experience and substantive legal knowledge to help achieve the objectives of transnational clients with state and federal compliance and investigation matters brought by the Department of Justice, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, as well as enforcement actions by state and federal attorneys general. She has a particular interest in litigating complex bid-protest actions before the United States Court of Federal Claims (COFC), the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and small business size and HUBZone status protests and appeals before the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA).

Karlee routinely collaborates with colleagues in the firm’s corporate practice groups, advising private-sector developers and public entities on the procurement elements of public-private partnerships (P3s) with public finance and tax attorneys, and counseling government contractors involved in mergers and acquisitions, including post-acquisition compliance counsel on FAR, DFARS, and SBA regulations and OFCCP reporting requirements.

Karlee extensive experience working on construction-law matters and frequently serves as a speaker and panelist for industry forums on subjects including the Miller Act. She has experience drafting and negotiating the terms and conditions of surety bonds (both payment bonds and performance bonds) for governmental entities and lenders, as well as litigating payment and performance-bond claims in state and federal courts on public and private construction projects. She is proficient in matters of contract interpretation, pre-litigation dispute resolution and drafting requests for equitable adjustment, formal claims preparation and contractor certification, and has represented clients on such matters before the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (CBCA), the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (ASBCA), federal courts, and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. She has experience advising on bid protests and complex litigation involving the Contract Disputes Act, Fair Labor Standards Act claims, CERCLA, spent-nuclear fuel, regulatory takings, as well as tax disputes and military benefit disputes.

Karlee joined McGuireWoods from the United States Court of Federal Claims (COFC) where she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Mary Ellen Coster Williams. Prior to her clerkship, Karlee was an associate at a boutique construction and government contracting law firm where she practiced in the government contracts, construction litigation and contract-drafting practice groups.

Prior to matriculating at Duke University School of Law, Karlee served as the Program Development Manager and co-teacher of an international venture-planning bootcamp in India, Turkey, and the United States. While a student at Columbia University, Karlee was awarded a Weatherhead Institute East Asian Studies Grant to develop and deliver solar-powered heating technology to an orphanage in a Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture within the People’s Republic of China.

Experience

Government Contracts

Successfully defended an aerospace company’s contract awards in a series of bid protests initiated in COFC and subsequently transferred to a federal district court for review under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

Represented an Afghan logistics company with U.S. government contracts, for logistical support and jet fuel delivery, in successfully reversing a proposed military installation bar (barment letter) that would have prevented the company and its employees from accessing any U.S. military facilities and served to terminate all of its U.S. government contracts.

Advised a construction contractor through complex Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (ASBCA) litigation involving delay claims, a cumulative-impact claim, differing site conditions, and interference.

Successfully defended a small business that was awarded a small-business set aside contract, with a HUBZone price preference, by the Defense Logistics Agency, against three simultaneous challenges to the award filed by an unsuccessful offeror: (i) a bid protest before the GAO, (ii) size protest and subsequent appeal of the business’s status and eligibility for award before the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s Office of Hearings & Appeals, and (iii) HUBZone status protest and subsequent appeal before the SBA's Associate Administrator, Office of Government Contracting and Business Development.

Represented a prime contractor in negotiating a Termination-for-Convenience Settlement Agreement under a State Department contract for renovations to the American Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Investigations

Represented a media entity in an internal investigation of suspected misconduct by former employees and board members.

Represented public corporations in investigations involving the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Conducted an internal investigation on behalf of a financial institution that focused on its employees’ sales practices pursuant to the terms of a settlement agreement with the SEC and DOJ.

Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement Actions

Represented an aerospace company in meeting its year-one obligations under a Deferred Prosecution Agreement entered into with the Criminal Division of the DOJ, and a U.S. Attorney’s Office, focusing on the company’s M&A, corporate investigations, and employee disciplinary action functions.

Advised a veteran-owned consulting firm on obtaining veteran-owned small business (“VOSB”) certification, and compliance with the requirements for maintaining certified status.

Assisted government contractors involved in mergers and acquisitions by providing government contract-related due diligence and post-acquisition counsel on matters including: ITAR, EAR, USML, FOCI, Buy American Act clauses and restrictions, SBIR, NIPSOM requirements and cyber security requirements, personnel security clearances and facilities security clearances, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) risks, False Claims Act (FCA) risks, prevailing wages, Davis Bacon Act, the Anti-Assignment Act, OFCCP requirements, and contract novations under the FAR.

Construction and Finance

Served as government contracts counsel to a Special Assistant Attorney General at the firm on state public-private partnership (P3) procurements using a design-build-finance (DBF), design-build-finance-maintain (DBFM), and design-build-finance-operate-maintain (DBFOM) delivery model on both availability payment and concessions projects.

First-chaired the favorable resolution of complex construction litigation in state court on behalf of a foreign subcontractor on a public project involving payment and performance issues, through a state Miller Act claim, against the prime contractor and its surety company.

Advised a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee as a member of the Special Counsel team on suretyship issues after a major electrical contractor defaulted on its obligations under multiple construction projects with payment- and performance-bond obligations.

Represented an American joint venture awarded a USAID contract for the construction of the Gardez-Khost National Highway in Afghanistan in successfully resolving contractual disputes with an India-based subcontractor in an arbitration proceeding conducted under the American Arbitration Association (AAA)’s Construction Rules.

Represented two subcontractors in connection with enforcement of a teaming agreement for a steel fabrication and erection contract at a ballistic missile site in Redzikowo, Poland.

  • District of Columbia
  • Virginia
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims

Named to "Washington, D.C. Rising Stars," Criminal Defense: White Collar, Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, 2020, 2021, 2022

Selected for inclusion in Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch, Construction Law, 2021-2023

Selected for inclusion in Best Lawyers Women in the Law: Ones to Watch, 2021

  • Author, New Rules for Small Business Government Contractors, McGuireWoods Legal Insights, January 16, 2019
  • Author, New GAO Protest Rules Take Effect May 31, McGuireWoods Legal Insights, May 30, 2018
  • Author, New GAO Bid Protest Rules Take Effect May 1 — What Contractors Need to Know, McGuireWoods Legal Insights, April 24, 2018
  • Co-author, Chapter 38 - When and How to File a Federal Contract Claim, Construction Law Handbook, December 18, 2017
  • Author, "Toil or Trouble: ‘Labor’ Under the Federal Miller Act," Under Construction, March 8, 2017
  • Co-author, Chapter 2 - Claim Identification and Notification, American Society of Civil Engineers Press, 2016
  • Co-author, Sandpapering: How Much is Too Much, ABA Forum on Construction Law 2016 Fall Meeting, October 7, 2016
  • Contributing author, Chapter 39 - When and How to File a Federal Contract Claim, Construction Law Handbook, Cumulative Supplements for 2014, 2015, and 2016
  • Duke University School of Law, JD, 2015
  • Columbia University, BA, Political Science, East Asian Studies, cum laude, Dean’s List, 2012

Member, ABA Forum on Construction Law, 2016-present

Member, Professional Women in Construction, 2013-2017; Board Member, 2016-2017

Member, PADI Diving Society, 2013-present

  • Panelist, "How to Effectively Prevent Construction Disputes: Practical Tips and Strategies Explored," The Knowledge Group, March 31, 2021
  • Presenter, Seminal LGBTQ+ Legal Cases: U.S. & UK, Webinar, June 24, 2020
  • Presenter, "The Types of ‘Labor’ and ‘Materials’ that Support a Payment-Bond Claim under the Federal Miller Act," ABA Forum on Construction Law, Division 9 Webinar, September 21, 2016
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