Because of my construction and environmental law experience, I call myself a “dirt problem lawyer,” but first and foremost, I’m a business attorney. My team and I have to figure out the best economic resolution for our client whether the matter involves a transaction or a dispute. Best economic resolution doesn’t usually mean litigating a matter for several years. My focus in either construction or environmental matters is thus on identifying potential conflict issues and then creating methods to avoid or resolve the issue. At times, however, we must draw a line in the sand and say, “We won’t cross it.” I tend to view myself by nature as a negotiator, mediator and problem solver—unless that line gets crossed. Then I’ll come after the opposing party with everything I’ve got.
Jim focuses his practice on construction law, environmental law, development issues and commercial business advice. He is Board Certified in Construction Law by the Florida Bar. For more than 25 years, he has served as an Adjunct Professor at Stetson Law School, where he teaches a course on Environmental Hazards of Real Property.
In construction matters, Jim represents owners, contractors, subcontractors and suppliers in all aspects of construction law, including bidding, contract preparation and negotiation, surety bonds, claim resolution, ADA claims and litigation of construction defect claims and monetary disputes. He routinely handles matters in mediation, arbitration and litigation. He also negotiates and drafts complex construction contracts.
With construction law experience working with issues that involve geotechnical engineering and the clean-up of contaminated building sites, Jim was an obvious choice to take on environmental matters and grow that practice when his firm first started handling Superfund litigation in the late 1980s.
Today, Jim helps clients navigate a broad array of environmental issues, including those concerning hazardous substances, contaminated property, Brownfields, asbestos, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), toxic torts, surface and waste water discharges, air emissions, notices of violations and consent decrees.
Jim routinely advises owners on risk associated with development, environmental wetland, storm water and natural resource issues. A longtime advocate of conservation and rational stewardship of the planet, he believes strongly that, for the sake of ourselves and our children and grandchildren, we need to preserve our natural resources by increasing density on existing developed infrastructure rather than building upon natural wildlands, and to counter the causes of rising sea levels.
Jim also advises business clients in land use, title, trade regulation, commercial litigation and general business negotiations. He has served as the General Counsel and a member of the Executive of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce for over a decade.
Jim writes and speaks extensively on construction and environmental law issues. As a longtime Adjunct Professor at Stetson University College of Law, he believes teaching makes him a better lawyer because law students often raise difficult questions, which requires him to stay on top of any and all new developments. He conveys to his students that a good attorney deciphers the key economic and psychological issues between parties in a dispute or negotiation, anticipates potential points of contention and suggests options to avoid such problems.
In keeping with his commitment to community service and because he feels lawyers need to ensure that everyone has access to the legal system, regardless of background, Jim serves as President of the Community Law Program, his local Legal Aid Society and as General Counsel to the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce.
Jim has also served as the Chair or President of The Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas County Inc. (frequently known as the Pinellas School Readiness Coalition), the St. Petersburg Community Alliance, the Leadership St. Petersburg Alumni Association and Gulfcoast Legal Services Corporation.
He has also served as a Board Member of the Florida International Museum, Greenlight Pinellas Council, City of St. Petersburg Committee to Advocate Persons with Impairments, St. Petersburg Police Advisory Council, Tampa Water Resource Recovery Project Task Force, Foundation Academy in Construction Trades, Affordable Housing of Pinellas, Inc., City of St. Petersburg Human Relations Review Board and Florida Legal Service Corporation.
“ As business attorneys we are problem solvers for our clients. After 30 years of practice in construction and environmental issues, I have learned that even in litigation our focus must be on the best economic option for our client. ”
- Indiana University, J.D., 1977
- Indiana University, B.A., 1972
- United States Supreme Court
- United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
- United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida
- United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida
Areas of Practice
- St. Petersburg Bar Foundation Heroes Among Us Award, 2018
- AV® Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell since 1996.
- Florida Super Lawyers® (by Thomson Reuters) Environmental, Construction Litigation: Business, Business/Corporate 2006-2020
- Best Lawyers® - Construction Law, Litigation - Construction, Since 2009
- Florida Bar Association - President’s Pro Bono Service Award
- St. Petersburg Bar Association - Pro Bono Award
- National Association for Community Leadership - Distinguished Leadership
- Leadership St. Petersburg - Alumni Association Leadership Award
- St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce – Member of the Year
- Litigation Counsel of America, Trial Lawyer Honorary Society Fellow
Professional Affiliations & Memberships
- American Bar Association Forum Committee on Construction Industry, Project Delivery Division; Liaison with Senior Lawyers Division; Section of Environmental Energy and Resources; Ethics and Professionalism Committee; Pro Bono Senior Lawyers Center
- Florida Bar Association, Trial Lawyers Section; Environmental and Land Use Section
- St. Petersburg Bar Association