Photo of James L. Allen

James L. Allen





University of Michigan Law School, J.D., 1977

Wayne State University Law School, L.L.M., 1988

University of Michigan, B.A. 1974

Bar Admissions

Court Admissions

U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Courts of Appeals

  • Third Circuit
  • Sixth Circuit

U.S. District Courts

  • Eastern District of Michigan
  • Western District of Michigan
  • Northern District of Ohio
  • Southern District of Ohio
  • Western District of Pennsylvania

U.S. Tax Court

James L. Allen uses his keen knowledge of commercial real estate workouts and foreclosures to serve his lender clients, primarily in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. With more than 30 years of experience and as the author of the Michigan Chapter on Foreclosures for The Law of Distressed Property, Jim focuses on finding practical solutions for his clients.

Jim leads a team of lawyers and other professionals who use Miller Canfield’s Assessment and Plan of Action system, which enables them to advise their clients promptly and efficiently. In fact, they are able to detect legal issues and advise on solutions before their lender clients even know that they have a problem.

Representative Matters

Jim has over 30 years of experience representing lenders in transactional matters and litigation. Since 1997, he has focused his practice exclusively on the representation of special servicers and lenders in workout negotiations and enforcement activities related to commercial mortgage loans in default.

Jim has an active practice in all property types, both core (office, retail, industrial and multi-family) and non-core (construction loans, health care, hospitality, restaurants, gas stations, golf courses, mobile home parks, self-storage facilities, franchises, etc.). These projects have unpaid principal balances from $1,000,000 to $100,000,000, most typically between $5,000,000 to $20,000,000, for properties located principally in the Midwest (most typically Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky).

He handles all phases of the workout process, whether resolved consensually or through contested proceedings. As such, he is experienced in:

  • Forbearance Agreements
  • Deed-in-lieu Transactions
  • Distressed Real Estate Loan Sales
  • Mortgage Assumption Agreements
  • Deed-in-Escrow Agreements
  • Consensual Sales through Receivers
  • Mortgage Foreclosures (judicial and non-judicial in Michigan; judicial in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky)
  • Receiverships
  • Suits against Guarantors (both recourse and non-recourse carve-out violations)
  • Fraudulent Transfer Claims
  • Fraud Investigations and Litigation
  • Lender Liability Claims and Litigation
  • Bankruptcy
  • Sales of Distressed Real Estate through Powers of Attorney, Receivers, Bankruptcy Estates and as REO Property

Jim has tried lender liability cases to jury verdict. His lender clients have prevailed, both by summary judgment and trial, in lender liability lawsuits, and have successfully prevailed in appeals of such cases.

Reported and Published Decisions

Kim v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., 493 Mich 98; 825 NW2d 329 (2012) (defects in mortgage foreclosure renders sale voidable, not void; amicus brief on behalf of Real Property Law Section, State Bar of Michigan)

7800 W. Outer Drive Holdings, L.L.C. v College Park Partners, L.L.C., 2012 WL 2402010 (Mich. App. 2012) (foreclosing lender entitled to predefault rents and real estate tax refunds)

8375 Honeytree Boulevard Holdings, LLC v Jeffrey S. Starman, et al., 2012 WL 683379 (E.D. Mich. March 2, 2012) (summary judgment for lender on carve-out guaranty for bankruptcy filing) 

51382 Gratiot Avenue Holdings, LLC v Chesterfield Development Co., 835 F.Supp.2d 384, 2011 WL 6153023 (E.D. Mich. 2011), reconsideration denied 2012 WL 205843 (summary judgment for lender on carve-out guaranty for insolvency)

U.S. Bank National Association v Mobile Associates National Network Systems, Inc., et al., 961 N.E.2d H-15, 195 Ohio App.3d 699, 2011-Ohio-5284, 10th Dist. (foreclosure judgment affirmed; prenegotiation agreement bars claim of modification)

Livonia Properties Holdings, LLC v 12840-12976 Farmington Road Holdings, LLC, 717 F.Supp.2d 724 (E.D. Mich. 2010), aff'd 399 Fed. Appx. 97, 2010 WL 4275305 (6th Cir. 2010), cert. den. 131 S. Ct. 1696, (2011) (borrower's request for preliminary injunction to enjoin foreclosure sale denied since 'record chain of title' means documents recorded in register's office and borrower lacks standing to contest interim assignments of mortgages in blank)

In re Griswold Building, LLC, 420 B.R. 666 (Bkry. E.D. Mich 2009) (denial of confirmation in single asset real estate case)

Highland Park CDO I Grantor Trust v Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., as Trustee, 2009 WL 183496 (S.D.N.Y. 2009) (summary judgment on intercreditor agreement)

Ivankovich v PAMI Grand Lake, LLC, 910 N.E.2d 271 (Ind. App. 2009) (summary judgment for lender on guaranty affirmed)

AXS Opportunity Fund, LLC v Continent French Quarter, LLC, 2008-Ohio-1047 (10th Dist., 2008) (contempt of court for violation of receivership order)

Check Reporting Services, Inc. v Michigan National Bank - Lansing, 191 Mich App 614, 478 NW2d 893, 16 UCC Rep2d 1116 (1991) lv den'd 440 Mich 887 (lender liability)

In re Briggs, Receiver of Birmingham Bloomfield Bank, 116 Mich App 267, 324 NW2d 332 (1982)(state bank receivership)

Wholesale Tool Company, Inc. v Liberty State Bank & Trust, Michigan Court of Appeals, Case No. 141391-L (unreported), lv den'd 448 Mich 924 (letter of credit)


University of Michigan, Phi Beta Kappa, Regents Scholar

Michigan Super Lawyers, Real Estate 2007-present

Best Lawyers in America, Banking Law and Real Estate Law 2008-2011; Litigation-Banking & Finance, Litigation-Real Estate, and Real Estate law 2012-present; 2013 Detroit Litigation-Banking & Finance Lawyer of the Year

DBusiness Magazine, Top Lawyers, Banking 2011-present

Professional Activities

American College of Mortgage Attorneys, Fellow

State Bar of Michigan, Representative Assembly, 1978-1990; Real Property Law Section

Ohio Bar Association

Oakland County Bar Association, Chairman, Program Committee, 1979-1982

CRE Finance Council

Civic, Cultural & Social Activities

University of Michigan Alumni Association

National Eagle Scout Association

Phi Gamma Delta

Birmingham Community House, Board of Directors, 1983-1986


Instructor, Business Law, Walsh College, 1980


"2013 Trigild Fall Lender Conference," October 2013

"Selected Springing Recourse Guaranty Cases," Torchlight Investors, January 2013

"Alston & Bird Servicing Symposium," October 2012

"Guaranty Springing Recourse Liability Based Upon 'Insolvency' as a Carve-out," LNR Partners, LLC, July 2012

"Distress Real Estate Loans and Workouts," Panelist, American College of Mortgage Attorneys, Annual Meeting, September 2010

"Lender Liability," ING Clarion, May 2010

"Intercreditor Agreements," ING Clarion, June 2009

"Sale of Properties Through Receiverships," Capmark Finance Inc., May 2009

"Distress Debt Symposium," Panelist, Plante & Moran, April 2009

"Post-Foreclosure Due Diligence Checklist," Teleconference, Lorman Education Services, November 2008

"Handling Curves in the Lender Ballpark," Panelist, 8th Annual Trigild Lender Conference, San Diego, CA, October 2008

"Distressed Real Estate Investing Summit," Conference Chair,  Infocast, New York, February 2008

"Selling Distressed Debt in a Declining Real Estate Market," Panelist, 3rd Annual Creditors and Crudités Conference, Miami, FL, January 2008

"Legal Issues in Commercial Real Estate Workouts," Capmark Finance Inc., November 2007

"Recovery and Disposition," Panelist, 7th Annual Trigild Lender Conference, San Diego, CA, October 2007

"Commercial Real Estate Workouts: From Forbearance to Foreclosure and Bankruptcy in Michigan," Lorman Education Services, March 2004, March 2005

"Exceptions to Non-Recourse Liability," Criimi Mae Services LP, May 2004

"Distressed Real Estate: The Impact on the Market - The Opportunities They Present," Moderator,  RealShare Detroit Conference, May 2004

"Foreclosure and Repossession in Michigan," Lorman Education Services, April 2003, April 2004

"Exceptions to Non-Recourse Liability," GMAC Commercial Mortgage and Midland Loan Services, November 2003, December 2003

"Loan Workout and Collateral Liquidation in Michigan," Lorman Education Services, November 2002

"Lender Liability in Michigan," Fifth Third Bank, May 2002, Lorman Education Services, March 2002

"Revised U.C.C. Article 9 - What You Need to Know by July 1, 2001," First American Title Insurance Company, May 2001

"Commercial Real Estate Lending - Loan Documentation," Huntington National Bank, June 1999


LexisNexis Practice Guide: Michigan Real Estate Litigation, co-authored "Foreclosure of Mortgages and Land Contracts; Receiverships," July 2016

Strategic Alternatives For and Against Distressed Businesses (Chapter 53, Michigan), Thomson West, 2014

"Michigan Foreclosure Practice," The Law of Distressed Real Estate, Thompson West, December 2007

"Common Law Theories and Lender Liability: A Transactional Approach," © 1989

"Lender Liability: The Cause of Action for Breach of the Implied Obligation of Good Faith," Master's Thesis, Wayne State University Law School, 1988

"Attitude Change Following Jury Duty," 2 The Justice System Journal 246, 1977