Book: ‘The Automation Legal Reference’ provides legal advice with wit, wisdom

A new book, a guide to legal risk in the automation, robotics, and process industries, by Mark Voigtmann, expands upon his legal wisdom, sound advice, and humor from the Control Engineering “Legalities” column.


The book, “The Automation Legal Reference” by Mark Voigtmann, is available through the online ISA Bookstore, and expands on Voigtmann’s wisdom in many Control Engineering Legalities articles.Legal risk surrounds automation, robotics, and process industries projects, and “The Automation Legal Reference,” by Mark Voigtmann and published by ISA, includes inspired legal wisdom and wit from years of writing and speaking about legalities of automation. Voigtmann, attorney with Faegre Baker Daniels, expanded upon years of Control Engineering “Legalities” columns, speeches, and other articles, and added illustrations from Aaron Reiter, in the 160-page book. It’s appropriate reading for anyone involved with control system integration, robotic integration, and integration of process control projects, as well as customers, those funding the projects, and others involved.

Voigtmann said that in automation, robotics, and process industries, “lack of communication is a two-way problem. Not only do most lawyers have little or no understanding of what automation companies do (mention the word ‘software’ and many will politely look for the exit), but I also have seen all too many engineers (and, frankly, automation company executives) attempt to navigate their way through legal hazards in what can only be described as a ‘penny wise but pound foolish’ manner—saving a few thousand on legal fees on the front end only to see a company-killing problem arise as a result of that inattention.”

He further explains that “legal risks awaiting those who venture out in the automation world are by no means small. Although reading this book will not eliminate those risks, I hope it will at least demystify them—so that each new project is begun with open eyes.”

Sampling: Dirty dozen and ugly 8 contract clauses

For a brief preview of Voigtmann’s style, you can look at two Control Engineering columns, which are expanded into chapters 5 and 6 in this book:

- Beware The Dirty Dozen - Legalities: Want a good starting place for figuring out whether to accept another company's terms and conditions? Try looking for these "Dirty Dozen" contract flaws.

- Legalities: 8 Ugly Contract Clauses - Legal risks for automation industry companies: Add these ugly 8 contract clauses to the dirty dozen to get 20 very serious legal risks.

Mark Voigtmann, Faegre Baker DanielsAnd, as Voigtmann advises, “This book is intended as a general guide to legal risk in the automation realm and should not be relied upon as advice for any particular situation. The law applicable to any given circumstance can be nuanced. Please consult counsel.”

The book, “The Automation Legal Reference” by Mark Voigtmann, is available through the online ISA Bookstore. He discussed the book and used the chapters as an outline for his May 2 presentation, "21 Legal Takeaways in 45 Minutes," at the CSIA Executive Conference. 

- Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering and Plant Engineering,

ONLINE: See additional Voigtmann information, below.

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