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 Real Estate partner, is a preeminent legal adviser to global market leaders, Fortune 100 companies and corporate boards.

Jim has served more than a decade as Pillsbury’s global chair and CEO. Before becoming the firm’s chair and CEO, he served for a decade as the global leader of the Firm’s real estate practice. Jim presently serves as the leader of Pillsbury’s Real Estate and Construction Industry Team, with real estate and construction as core elements of the firm’s strategic focus. He also 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.

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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. 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 in 2008.

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

Leads the team representing SBE Entertainment/SBE Hotel Group in various investment and development projects, including the acquisition, financing and equity investment negotiations for the Beverly Hills Le Meridien Hotel.

Serves as the Los Angeles Unified School District’s lead counsel, handling matters related to its $1 billion facilities development, one of the largest ongoing public improvement projects in the U.S.

Represented CommonWealth Partners and its affiliate, Fifth Street Properties, in a $1.5 billion sale of a portfolio of Class A office buildings in Southern California, Colorado, Texas and Arizona.

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  • Secured the $800 million acquisition and financing and the multibillion-dollar redevelopment of Las Vegas’ renowned Sahara Hotel & Casino for SBE Hotel Group.

Professional Highlights

Recipient of the 2018 Burton Award for Law Firm Leadership

Leader, Real Estate and Construction Industry Team

Listed in The Bond Buyer’s Municipal Marketplace directory (Fall 2017)

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  • Pillsbury’s global chair from 2006 to 2016, guiding the law firm’s strategic global expansion, strengthening client relationships and reinforcing a forward-thinking, collaborative culture.
  • Earned distinctions as California Lawyer of the Year and as Deal of the Year award winner for real estate transactions.
  • Honors & Awards
    • Chambers USA, Real Estate—California (2005-2015)
    • The Legal 500 U.S., Real Estate (2008-2009, 2011-2012, 2016)
    • Best Lawyers in America, Real Estate Law (10+ years)
    • PLC Which Lawyer?, Real Estate—Los Angeles (2010-2012)
    • 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)
    • 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
  • Board Memberships and Civic Engagements
    • Board Member, UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate

    • Advisory Board Member, Specifio
    • Advisory Board Member, Mission Capital LLC
    • Executive Committee Member, Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission
    • Advisory Board Member, DACK
    • Member, Allam Advisory Group
    • Advisory Board Member, Elevate Services, Inc.
    • Member, Honorary Board of Directors, The Burton Awards
    • Board member of Lease Advisors, a leading lease acquisition and consultancy firm
    • Board Member of Orogenesis, a next-generation venture firm
    • CASA of Los Angeles board member and Chair Emeritus
    • National CASA Association board trustee
    • Los Angeles River Project advisory council member
    • Real Estate Law and Business Forum executive committee member
    • Best Lawyers/US News & World Report advisory board member
    • WILEF (Women in Law Empowerment Forum) Leadership Council member
    • The Jonathan Club
  • Publications
    • Legalised Marijuana Resulting in Real Estate High, International Law Office, January 5, 2018

    • Legalized Marijuana Resulting in Real Estate High, Part 2: Industry Side-Effects, Gravel2Gavel, December 19, 2017

    • Legalized Marijuana Resulting in Real Estate High, Part 1: The Real Estate Boom, Gravel2Gavel, December 11, 2017

    • 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)
  • Blog Posts
    • “With Liberty and Cannabis for All,” Pillsbury’s Gravel2Gavel, June 4, 2018.
    • “Ninth Circuit’s Blow to the Hemp Industry,” Pillsbury’s Gravel2Gavel, May 11, 2018.
    • “Dot Your I’s and Check Your Deeds Before Celebrating 4/20,” Pillsbury’s Gravel2Gavel, April 20, 2018.
    • "Legalized Marijuana Resulting in Real Estate High: Is the Golden State a Green Mine?," Pillsbury's Gravel2Gavel, March 23, 2018. (Top Pillsbury Blog Post for the week beginning March 26, 2018)
    • "Legalized Marijuana Resulting in Real Estate High: Industry Side-Effects," Pillsbury's Gravel2Gavel, December 19, 2017.
    • "Legalized Marijuana Resulting in Real Estate High," Pillsbury's Gravel2Gavel, December 11, 2017.


  • J.D., Pepperdine University School of Law, 1984
    cum laude, Moot Court Honor Board; Note and Comment Editor, Pepperdine Law Review

    B.A., University of California, Los Angeles, 1981
    with honors


  • California

    United States Supreme Court