James’s practice is focused on the intersection of land, construction and government.
He helps landowners work with government agencies on matters such as eminent domain, land use appeals and applications, and enforcement issues. He also assists contractors and developers with lien and payment disputes, as well as construction defect claims.
James takes a pragmatic approach to meet client needs, whether that be through an early resolution or prevailing at trial. James represents both plaintiffs and defendants, which offers insight to advise his clients on the likelihood of achieving their goals. He has taken cases to jury trials, arbitrations, and resolved scores of disputes at mediation. James works in both our Seattle and Spokane offices, representing clients across the state.
- J.D., magna cum laude, Willamette University School of Law
- Editor, Willamette Law Review
- B.A., cum laude, Willamette University, economics major
- Washington State Bar
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington
- U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
- Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
- U.S. Supreme Court
Real Estate, Land Use, and Construction Litigation
When a long term tenant became embroiled in litigation because of environmental contamination, James and Chris Brain prevailed at trial with a verdict finding the ground tenant was not responsible under MTCA to fund cleanup of the land. The two also obtained an order from the Court recovering their client’s attorneys’ fees.
James helped a local developer navigate a dispute between two cities over who was responsible for providing sewer service to a proposed development under a binding site plan. Through quick and aggressive action, including a LUPA appeal, James was able to help broker a resolution to everyone’s benefit that kept the project redevelopment on schedule.
In Timberland Bank v. Mesaros, 1 Wn. App. 2d 602, 406 P.3d 719 (Div. 2, 2017), a bank foreclosed on commercial property owned by James’s client. At the subsequent sheriff’s sale, the statutory procedures were not followed, resulting in a minimal bid. When the trial court refused to allow an upset hearing to ascertain the property’s true fair market value, James convinced the Court of Appeals to reverse the trial judge and void the entire foreclosure sale, ultimately saving the client from hundreds of thousands of dollars in judgment debt.
Commercial and Business Litigation
When a client started his own business, his former employer brought suit claiming there was an agreement that the two would both be owners, and thereby attempted to usurp half of the client’s business. James got the case dismissed and obtained and order from the Court directing the former employer to pay the client’s legal fees for bringing a frivolous action.
James has secured and collected on dozens of judgments for contractors and business owners confronted with customers who refuse to pay. Similarly, James has represented businesses in bankruptcy proceedings and receivership actions.
James also enjoys advising clients on insurance matters, ranging from evaluating whether the business has the proper lines and amounts of coverage to ensuring the insurance company honors its end of the bargain when a claim is made.
Eminent Domain/Condemnation Litigation
James was delighted to assist a small business owner in Federal Way litigate and settle with Sound Transit for its condemnation of the owner’s property. James also assisted the owner with their relocation claim to secure financial assistance for the displacement of their business.
James was an integral part of a team representing a waterfront business and landowner in a condemnation action by the State relating to the demolition of the SR 99 viaduct. The team secured what was at the time, the highest price per square foot for commercial office space in the area.
James is currently helping landowners with actions by Sound Transit in Federal Way, Lake Forest Park, and Lynnwood. Similarly, James is helping landowners along Bigelow Gulch Road work with Spokane County, and helping owners along SR 509 and SR 520 work with WSDOT in threatened eminent domain actions. James has also been monitoring WSDOT’s feasibility studies for redesigning Highway 2’s path through Leavenworth, as well as various irrigation districts’ plans for expanding their infrastructure throughout central and eastern Washington.
Professional Involvement and Recognition
Publications and Presentations
Author and Speaker: Advanced Real Estate Purchase and Sales Conference, Enforcement, Real Estate Purchase and Sales, Law Seminars International (1998-2018)
Author and Speaker: Commercial Real Estate Leases – Commercial Lease Remedies, Law Seminar International (2008-2017)
Author, Speaker and Program Co-Chair: Development Agreements, Easements and CCR’s – Litigation of Disputes Over Easements and CCR’s, Law Seminars International (2006-2015)
Author, Speaker and Program Co-Chair: Commercial Real Estate Workouts and Remedies, Law Seminars International (2008-2010)
Speaker: Innovative Strategies for Litigating Class Actions, Settlement Strategies and Issues, Law Seminars International (2008-2009)
Author, Speaker and Program Co-Chair: WSBA Real Estate Boot Camp, Washington State Bar Association (2008)
Instructor: University of Washington Certified Program in Commercial Real Estate (1998-2018)
Author and Speaker: Commercial Litigation Posturing in Real Estate Cases, King County Bar Association
Author and Speaker: Judicial Foreclosure, King County Bar Association
- Repeatedly recognized as a top 100 “Super Lawyer” in Washington Law & Politics magazine
- Designated as one of the 100 Best Lawyers in Washington by Seattle magazine
- Designated as one of The Best Lawyers in America in Commercial Litigation and Real Estate Law by Best Lawyers®
- AV-Peer Review™ Rated in Martindale-Hubbell®
Professional and Community Involvement
- Washington State Bar Association
- King County Bar Association
- Spokane County Bar Association
- Super Lawyers Rising Star
- Habitat for Humanity, Volunteer