"Good communication between the attorney and client is essential to effective representation. ‘If you don’t have a destination, you’ll never get there’ applies in law as well as in life. At the beginning of each new engagement, I like to create a strategy with the client to achieve the desired end result. This streamlines the process and eliminates practice swings. The vast majority of our clients are entrepreneurs. Like them, we believe in starting and moving quickly to get the right result."

Jim has a long history with Duke Holzman.  He first worked with the firm in 1976, and then again for two years in the ‘90s, before splitting off to form his own partnership, Gresens & Gillen LLP, for ten years. Gresens & Gillen was founded to serve entrepreneurial and commercial clients in matters of business, construction and labor litigation.  After ten years of substantial growth, Gresens & Gillen looked to expand, and with their common client base and complementary practice areas, Duke Holzman was a natural fit.  In 2008, Jim rejoined Duke Holzman, this time as a senior partner, and the two practices have fit together like hand and glove.

With nearly 40 years of experience, Jim is a seasoned litigator specializing in business and construction matters.  He has handled a wide range of cases, including disputes: involving the demolition and decommissioning of nuclear power projects; hazardous chemical and waste sites; underground tunneling; toxic mold; and labor and employment issues.  Jim also has successfully litigated cases involving design issues, construction delays, and contract disputes.

Over the years, Jim has represented virtually every type of party involved in the construction process, including entrepreneurs and small business owners, municipalities, school districts and others.  He has litigated construction and other disputes in New York, New Jersey, Vermont, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and California.

His experience includes:

  • Representing the owner of a historical property and obtaining a judgment of $4.75M against a propane company that caused a fire there
  • Serving as counsel to a private university in a $500M capital expansion, including the construction of a new science center, business school, new campus housing, sports facilities and others
  • Obtaining a judgment for $2.2M on behalf of a property owner in a case involving toxic mold
  • Acting as general counsel for a demolition contractor and obtaining a $1.2M arbitration award against a common carrier that caused a spill of low-level nuclear waste
  • Obtained and collected $7.8 million for a private university owner in a dispute with the construction manager, the architect and three trade contractors.

Strategizing and personal connection are two of the hallmarks of Jim’s practice.  He forms his plan of attack early on and works with his clients to obtain optimal results.  His depth of experience, combined with his customer service orientation and vibrant personality, distinguish Jim among the top business and construction attorneys in Western New York.

For more than 25 years, Jim served as an adjunct professor of law at SUNY as Buffalo Law School.  Each semester he taught a course in civil procedure to senior law students, and his teaching style and course content were a big success:  “This was the best course I took in law school!”; “I thought that procedure would be boring, but he made it come alive”; “Thank you, I was totally prepared for this part of the bar exam” are some of the comments from his students.

Jim is also a frequent lecturer in the construction industry as well as a mediator and certified arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association.  He is a member of the WNY Trial Lawyers Association and Leadership Buffalo.  Beyond the legal industry, Jim volunteers at St. Luke’s Mission, where he tutors underprivileged high school students in literature and history.

Jim was selected to the 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 Upstate New York Super Lawyers list.


Construction & Demolition; Education; Professional Services; Real Estate and Environmental

Organizations and Activities:

New York General Building Contractors; Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (member); Construction Exchange of Buffalo & Western New York (member); The Associated General Contractors of America (member)


New York; United States Court of Appeals for the Second and Fourth Circuits; United States District Court for all districts of New York; United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan; United States Supreme Court


SUNY Buffalo Law School, J.D., magna cum laude
SUNY Buffalo, B.A., magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society