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James Oakley


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James advocates for his clients in state and federal courts nationwide by taking a big-picture approach to litigation, calculating the value of each legal maneuver and focusing on bottom-line results, rather than getting tangled in the litigation process.

Although he gets fired up with passion in an intense courtroom battle like any true litigator, James knows that an in-court showdown is oftentimes the last situation his clients want. "Clients hate spending money on litigation," which is why he always positions a case for favorable settlement.

His practice, which includes mediation and international arbitration, touches on many industries with much of his recent work focusing on the real estate, construction, energy and banking and finance sectors.

James has provided legal counsel in numerous high-profile developments and has represented all of the critical players – material suppliers, subcontractors, contractors, developers and land owners – giving him a 360-degree perspective on the construction and development process. His cases in this area have involved mechanics' lien, bond claims, construction defect claims, construction disputes, title disputes and landlord-tenant matters.

Although he maintains a litigation focus, James' deep involvement in projects means he's often called upon to lead non-litigation components of real estate developments and other transactions.

Additionally, James litigates shareholder disputes, disputes involving contracts for goods or services and promissory notes, as well as business torts, including fraud and tortious interference with contractual relationships, across virtually every industry.

Obtained a Cook County jury verdict after a week-long trial that awarded $8.3 million, including an award of $6 million in punitive damages, to RyKrisp™ cracker owner in their case against a food manufacturer following their conversion of RyKrisp's equipment and tortious efforts to interfere with RyKrisp's business.

Successfully appealed a temporary restraining order that had frozen nearly $20 million of client’s assets.

Successfully defended suit for injunction that claimed breaches of covenants not to compete.

Obtained million dollar award in an arbitration involving an international corporation’s claims that the former stockholders of a company it acquired were required to indemnify it for taxes that were accrued but unpaid at the time of closing.

Obtained half-million dollar award in arbitration involving an insurance agent's failure to turn over contingent commissions to which it was not entitled.

Thompson Coburn Publications

Unpaid construction work? Stay calm – and make sure every word of mechanics lien is accurate

Waivers of implied warranty strengthened for condo, home builders in Illinois

James Oakley publishes chapter in Illinois civil procedure handbook


"Waivers of implied warranty strengthened for condo, home builders in Illinois";
July 2016

Co-author, Chapter 11: Motions, Affidavits, and Orders;
Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education’s Civil Practice (Illinois): Opening the Case, 2009 Edition


Speaker: "Ethics and Governance Best Practices for Non-Profit Corporations";
Association of Financial Crimes Investigators, 2015

Speaker: "Recent Changes in Illinois Law and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure";
Illinois Paralegal Association, May 2011

Speaker: "Corporate and Personal Guarantees";
National Association of Credit Managers - Midwest Conference, October 2010

Speaker: "Third Party Rights Overview" and "Settlement Strategies and Alternatives";
National Cement Credit Association Conference, October 2009

Speaker: "Electronic Data in Credit and Collections";
National Association of Credit Managers - Midwest Conference, October 2009

Speaker: "Avoiding the Pitfalls of the Electronic Era";
Client Seminar, April 2006

Speaker: "Legal Topics Affecting Credit Managers";
National Association of Credit Managers, March 2006