James C.O'Brien


James enjoys helping his clients solve problems and make smart investments.

More About James

Each real estate transaction is like a puzzle. Some have more pieces and complications than others, but each looks simple when it is complete. James enjoys helping his clients gather the pieces, analyze the fit, and put together successful transactions.

Today's real estate market is competitive. Investors need to act quickly and efficiently, while avoiding surprises and unexpected liabilities. James helps his clients anticipate and understand the risks posed by their transactions, and offers strategies to minimize those risks. He also advises clients on transaction structures and manages transactions to reach closing as efficiently as possible.

James has more than 20 years of experience as a transactional attorney. He has handled matters throughout the country and internationally, having worked in New York, London, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. James lived and worked in the Bay Area for more than a decade, and regularly practices in the firm's San Francisco office. He has significant experience in California real estate transactions.

James understands the challenges faced by clients who have national real estate portfolios, and he is comfortable working across time zones and on tight deadlines. He has represented individual investors, small private equity firms, and startups, as well as Fortune 100 companies and some of the largest institutional investors in the US. James is equally comfortable working with in-house counsel or directly with real estate professionals. He can analyze complicated legal matters and explain them to clients in a way that is easy to digest and understand.

James's practice has included acquisitions, dispositions, leasing, financing, and joint venture formation. Having worked in multiple jurisdictions, he is adaptable, and understands that more than one approach can lead to the same goal. James approaches transactions with the aim of accomplishing his clients' objectives without unnecessary complication.

James represents both landlords and tenants in the leasing of office, retail, and industrial premises. He has experience with the entire life cycle of a lease, from negotiating letters of intent and leases themselves to dealing with construction and tenant improvement issues, expansion amendments, early terminations and lease disputes. James works closely with his clients’ brokers, construction managers, and other leasing professionals to complete lease negotiations as efficiently and as advantageously as possible.

James has worked on the acquisition, disposition, and financing of office, industrial, multifamily, and hotel properties throughout the US, including numerous properties in California. Given his broad experience, encompassing different transactions and asset types, James anticipates road blocks, crafts solutions, and helps clients meet their goals in a timely fashion. He also works with Seyfarth's professional project managers, the firm's centralized due diligence hub, and our proprietary and personalized SeyfarthLink software to deliver services to clients more efficiently.

James enjoys working at Seyfarth, where his colleagues and clients are smart and passionate about what they do. He loves passing by a client's completed project and knowing that he played a small part in making that client's vision a reality. James is passionate about giving back to the community, and proud to coordinate pro bono activities for Seyfarth's Washington, DC, office. He regularly counsels pro bono clients on both real estate and immigration matters. James is an active member of the Urban Land Institute and serves on the Trends Conference Committee, organizing the annual ULI Washington Real Estate Trends Conference. When he is not practicing law, James can be found coaching youth basketball or performing with Contemporary Choir at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Alexandria, VA.

  • JD, New York University School of Law

    Environmental Law Journal, staff editor

  • BA, University of Notre Dame

    Cum laude

  • California
  • District of Columbia
  • New York