Some attorneys are excellent wordsmiths. Others are well-connected rain makers. And a few attorneys are brilliant strategists possessed of boundless energy and tireless perseverance. It is exceptionally rare to find all of these attributes in one individual. With Jim, we have found just that.
—One of Jim Rishwain's clients

James Rishwain, an accomplished Pillsbury partner, has served as a preeminent legal adviser to global market leaders, Fortune 100 companies, real estate companies, professional service firms, family offices and corporate boards.

Jim served more than a decade as Pillsbury’s Chair and CEO. Before becoming Firm Chair and CEO, he spent a decade as Pillsbury's Global Head of Real Estate. Jim presently serves as the Global Real Estate and Construction Industry Leader, with real estate and construction as core elements of the firm’s strategic focus.

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Jim is a leading advocate and actively engaged at the highest levels in helping the City of Los Angeles attract and carry out the largest sporting events played in the world and is serving as the chair of the Organizing Committee for the 2023 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. He also spearheaded the creation of ChampionLA, an initiative of the Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission (LASEC), whose mission is to host and create community impact surrounding the world’s top sports and entertainment events in Los Angeles. Today, Jim serves as a member of LASEC’s board and executive committee, and remains a committed supporter of ChampionLA.

Jim is a leading advocate and actively engaged at the highest level in helping the nation’s 300,000 abused and neglected children and is chair elect and on the board of National CASA as well as serving as chair of the Governance Committee.

Jim offers strategic counsel to global developers, investors, lenders and property owners who set the pace in their industries. Leveraging his deep knowledge of capital markets and real estate, he advises on investments and acquisitions, development, finance, joint ventures, leasing, exchanges, multifamily tax-exempt bond transactions, syndications and REITs. His real estate transaction work has earned him distinction as the California Lawyer of the Year and a Deal of the Year award.

Jim further advises clients on COVID-19 related issues and on many CARES Act matters.

Jim also serves on numerous board of directors of for profit, civic and charitable organizations. Jim advises organizations on their strategic growth and development plans. Finally, Jim is active in many organizations in the City of Los Angeles, including those with respect to sports and entertainment, schools, parks and homeowners associations, and energy and infrastructure.

Jim is an active proponent of diversity in the legal profession and holds a CEO Diversity Leadership Award from Diversity Best Practices. He is a member of The Advisory Council on Women Business Collaborative and in each of his years as firm chair, Pillsbury was named as a Working Mother Best Company, and was among the Top 10 best companies in the United States.

He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles and his J.D., cum laude, from Pepperdine University School of Law, where he graduated with high distinction and top ten in his class.

Representative Experience

  • Serves as the Los Angeles Unified School District's lead counsel, handling many of the District’s most important matters including a program to re-open schools for 700,000 students and 75,000 staff in the midst of the COVID pandemic as well as handling matters related to its $1 billion facilities development, one of the largest ongoing public improvement projects in the U.S.
  • Represents Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association, CalPERS and other pension funds in acquisitions of major trophy projects throughout the nation.
  • Represents Nimes Real Estate, CommonWealth Partners and other institutional investors in the acquisition, financing, management, and operation of real estate portfolios throughout the nation.

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  • Represents companies owned and operated by high net worth individuals including Ron Tutor (founder of Tutor Perini Corporation), Steve Wynn (founder of Wynn Resorts) and Adam Neumann (founder of WeWork), among others.
  • Represents Aliaron Investments in the handling of a family office real estate portfolio, including the acquisition of a key strategic industrial real estate asset in Palmdale, CA, and a 65-year ground lease of industrial properties with an Hillwood investment entity as ground tenant in Fontana, CA.

Professional Highlights

Honors & Awards

  • Chambers USA Real Estate—California (2005 - 2015, 2020 - 2022)
  • Recognized by The Legal 500 U.S. as “outstanding” (2021); Ranked in The Legal 500 U.S., Real Estate (2008 – 2009, 2011 – 2012, 2016, 2019 – 2021)
  • Best Lawyers (published by BL Rankings LLC), Real Estate Law (2005 – 2023)

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  • Profiled in Women Business Collaborative’s Women Leadership Magazine (2021)
  • Nominated for Financial Times Most Innovative Law Firms North America (2020)
  • Selected for Connect Media’s inaugural Top 50 in the Nation Lawyers in Real Estate Awards (2020)
  • Los Angeles Business Journal Leaders in Law Award Nominee (2019)
  • Recipient of the Burton Award for Law Firm Leadership (2018)
  • Los Angeles Business Journal Nonprofit and Corporate Citizenship Award Nominee (2014, 2015, 2016)
  • CASA of Los Angeles’ Robert Morrison Community Service Award (2016)
  • Distinguished Alumni of the Year, Pepperdine University School of Law (2011)
  • PLC Which Lawyer?, Real Estate—Los Angeles (2010 – 2012)
  • CEO Diversity Leadership Award, Diversity Best Practices (2009)
  • Managing Partner A-List, Los Angeles Daily Journal (2009)
  • Who's Who in LA Law, Leadership and Real Estate, Los Angeles Business Journal (2007)
  • California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year (CLAY) Award, Transactional Law (2004)
  • Real Estate Deal of the Year, Los Angeles Daily Journal
  • Earned distinctions as California Lawyer of the Year and as Deal of the Year award winner for real estate transactions.
  • Listed in The Bond Buyer’s Municipal Marketplace directory
  • Board Memberships and Civic Engagements
    • Advisory Board Member, Women Business Collaborative
    • Advisory Board Member, Fan Controlled Football League
    • Board Member, UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate
    • Advisory Board Member, Specifio
    • Advisory Board Member, Mission Capital LLC
    • Chair, Organizing Committee for 2023 College Football Playoff National Championship Game
    • Board Member and Executive Committee Member of Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission
    • Member, Honorary Board of Directors, The Burton Awards
    • Board Member of Orogenesis
    • CASA of Los Angeles Chair Emeritus
    • National CASA/GAL Board of Trustees Chair
    • Real Estate Law and Business Forum Executive Committee Member
    • Best Lawyers/US News & World Report Advisory Board Member
  • Publications
    • Featured in Yahoo Finance for being appointed as the Board of Trustees Chair by The National CASA/GAL Association, February 16, 2023.
    • Featured in the Daily Journal for being appointed the national chair of the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) network, December 30, 2022
    • Featured in “Los Angeles Region to Host College Football Playoff National Championship in January 2023 at Sofi Stadium in Inglewood,” Los Angeles CFP National Championship Host Committee, January 11, 2022
    • Legalised Marijuana Resulting in Real Estate High, International Law Office, January 5, 2018
    • A History of the Legal Industry in Los Angeles (Perspective), Bloomberg Big Law Business, October 2016
    • 10 Rules for Effective Law Firm Committees, Bloomberg Big Law Business, August 2016
    • What’s Next for Pillsbury, Bloomberg Big Law Business, May 2015
    • Leveraging 145 Years of Experience, Forbes, March 2015
    • Authored case study “Reservoir of trust – Build trust and confidence in your leadership” for Leadership in Law Firms: An Expert Guide, published by Ark Group in association with Managing Partner.
    • Interviewed for “Learning From Law Firm Leaders,” a book written by Susan Manch and Michelle Nash, ABA Book Publishing, October 2012.
  • Associations
    • American Bar Association
    • State of California Bar Association
    • Los Angeles County Bar Association
  • Speaking Engagements
    • “Serving the Underserved through Public and Private Partnerships” – STEMconnector’s 2017 STEM Council Meeting (March 16, 2017).
    • “Stop Worrying and Love the Machines!” – USC Gould School of Law’s 2017 Real Estate Law and Business Forum (March 9, 2017).
    • 2011 Pepperdine University School of Law Commencement Ceremony (June 1, 2011).
  • Blog Posts


  • J.D., Pepperdine University School of Law
    cum laude, Moot Court Honor Board; Note and Comment Editor, Pepperdine Law Review

    B.A., University of California, Los Angeles
    with honors


  • California


  • U.S. Supreme Court