James A. Simpson

Of Counsel




Wayne State University Law School, J.D., 1968, cum laude

Michigan State University, B.A., 1965, Dean's List

Bar Admissions

Court Admissions

U.S. Court of Appeals

  • 6th Circuit

U.S. District Court

  • Eastern District of Michigan

Jim Simpson has been recognized by Chambers USA as a Senior Statesman "who continues to maintain an impressive real estate practice [advising] on financing and acquisition" and is known for his "vast experience and considerable skill in a wide range of commercial real estate projects and lending products, national lending programs and processes and distressed properties. Valued for his range of legal advice, deep industry understanding, creative, common-sense business solutions and guidance, and extensive relationships."

Indeed, Jim has the firm's longest and deepest involvement with contemporary commercial real estate finance, coupled with extensive experience in the ownership and development of commercial real estate throughout the country. Jim founded the firm's modern commercial real estate lending specialty practice, now within the Financial Services Group and ably led by great lawyers who have continued to advance that practice with Jim's counsel, guidance and pride.

He has been engaged as lender's primary counsel by national money center, regional and local bank, institutional and private equity lenders, mortgage bankers and servicers with a broad swath of significant national and regional lending programs. With them, Jim has developed entire lending documentation regimes recognized as much for their clarity as their transactional and legal soundness. He is sought out both within the firm and by clients for his expertise in transactional process and experience with document automation.

As owner's lead or general counsel, Jim has been engaged with aggregate portfolios of several billion dollars in value and has directed significant complex multi-state real estate litigation.

Reflecting the breadth of Jim's experience and respect, U.S. News and World Report's peer-reviewed Best Lawyers in America rankings have consistently recognized Jim in Banking and Finance Law, Corporate Law, Real Estate Law, Securities/Capital Markets Law, Securitization and Structured Finance Law, as well as recently designating him Lawyer of the Year in Banking and Finance Law. Jim has truly "been there and done that." A senior officer of one of Jim's clients offered the following assessment:

"The woods are full of bears. Bad counsel spends time and money killing all the bears; good counsel knows which bears bite, which don't, and helps the client deal with the bears that do. That pretty much sums up my experience with Jim. He has an incredible depth of knowledge and experience in every phase of commercial real estate lending, borrowing, developing, leasing and securitization, as well as all the bears that bite. This knowledge is paired with something that is, unfortunately, rare amongst the attorneys that I've been exposed to over my career – good business judgment. As a client, I appreciate the difference between spending my time and money efficiently and ineffectively. Jim provides good counsel in the truest sense of the word."

Representative Matters

Jim has served as a closing or supervising counsel for a diverse group of national and regional lenders. He has worked in connection with the closing of well over 2,000 loans destined for portfolio, syndication or securitization and secured by commercial and multifamily real estate in nearly all 50 states, with loan sizes ranging from $1 million to in excess of $150 million, and aggregating billions of dollars in loan volume.

Jim is also imbedded within the firm's workout and foreclosure team, bringing his extensive origination and securitization experience to the table every day.

Jim has headed up acquisition teams for well over a thousand completed transactions, and many additional negotiations. These acquisitions have included businesses in real estate, lending, manufacturing, distribution, sales, services and the professions. His principal concentration has been on the middle market, and the largest transaction involved a management buyout of a $450 million manufacturer.

Another client said: "I have had the pleasure of working closely with Jim for nearly 13 years. We have closed hundreds of commercial real estate loans together. I can honestly say that Jim is hands-down the best closing attorney I have ever worked with, not just because of his vast knowledge of the industry and legal matters, but even more so because of his excellent communication/people skills, his bedside manner, and the fact that he is always available at a moment's notice. He is overall a true professional. It is an honor to work with him on a daily basis."

Representative Matters

  • Michigan opinion counsel for $4 billion mortgage for emergence from Chrysler Bankruptcy
  • $92 million multistate resort hotel loan restructuring and full re-documentation

  • $75.5 million multistate multifamily loan
  • $22.3 million airport parking loan
  • $39 million financing of former Army Depot converted to offices and research
  • $18 million big box shopping center loan
  • $8.5 million syndicated hotel renovation loan
  • $45.6 million multifamily Freddie Mac loan
  • $10.8 million participated manufactured housing property construction loan
  • $179.0 million three-bank multistate restaurant franchise financing facility
  • $50.0 million corporate acquisition package
  • $145.0 million five-bank stadium financing presentation package
  • $150 million mortgage and asset-backed repo facility
  • $100 million whole asset-backed loan pool sale
  • $35 million series of earnout, bridge, and mezzanine loans
  • Extensive workout involvement as lender's counsel on major properties throughout the country and foreclosure counsel in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois
  • Major servicing fee revolving working capital line of credit


Best Lawyers in America, Lawyer of the Year, Banking and Finance Law 2018; Banking and Finance Law 2005-present; Real Estate Law 2010-present; Corporate Law, Securities/Capital Markets Law and Securitization and Structured Finance Law 2012-present

Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, Real Estate, 2005-2019

Michigan Super Lawyers, Banking, 2006-2018

DBusiness Magazine, Top Lawyers, Finance, Real Estate and Foreclosures 2010; Banking 2011; Real Estate Law, Banking and Financial Services Law 2012-16

Martindale-Hubbell AV-Preeminent® Peer Review Rated

Professional Activities

American Bar Association

Law Firm Advisory Committee of the ABA Working Group on Legal Opinions Foundation

State Bar of Michigan

Michigan Bar Association Ad Hoc Committee on Legal Opinions

Oakland County Bar Association

Mortgage Bankers' Association of America (MBA), Commercial eMortgage Work Group

Commercial Real Estate Finance Council (CREFC)

Commercial Mortgage Securities Association (CMSA), Technology Initiatives Committee

Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization (MISMO), Commercial Working Group

Oakland County Circuit Court, Past Special Commercial Mediator

Civic, Cultural & Social Activities

Board of Zoning Appeals, City of Birmingham, Michigan, Former Member

Joint Cablecasting Board of Birmingham, Beverly Hills, Franklin, and Bingham Farms, Michigan, Former Member

Beaumont (Hospital) Foundation, Former Board Member

Wayne State University Law School Law Alumni Association, Past Chairman

Wayne State University Law School Fund, Past Chairman

Bloomfield Open Hunt Club, Former Board Member and Officer

Birmingham Athletic Club

Copperleaf Golf Club

e-Cognita Technologies, Inc. (A software development company specializing in intelligent automated transaction processing for lenders and lawyers, formed with Wells Fargo Bank and others), Founder, Director and Chief Strategic Officer


"Challenges in Today's Highly Structured Environment," (Panelist), Trigild Lender Conference, February 2009

MBA-CREF National Technology in Mortgage Banking Conference, Panel Member, 2002

Real Comm Conference, Panel Member, 2001 

MBA Commercial Real Estate Finance (CREF) National Technology in Mortgage Banking Conference, Moderator, 2000


"Commercial Real Estate Market Projections, Influences, and Disrupters in 2019"

"Getting Everyone to the Same Page on Technology," CMBS World

"Commercial eMortgages: The Present and Future of 'Paperless Transactions' in Commercial Mortgage Lending," Participating Author (written as part of the MISMO Commercial eMortgage Workshop, and offered to the Mortgage Bankers' Association of America's Board of Governors for adoption as a Position Paper of the MBA)