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James

James R. Brown

Of Counsel

Grand Rapids MI

Please feel free to contact this attorney's secretary, Kristin

  1. Legal Team

Best Lawyers 2014

James R. Brown concentrates his law practice in municipal law and real property law. He represents many townships, villages, cities and other municipal bodies throughout West Michigan and elsewhere in the state.

His law practice has a particular emphasis in the representation of townships, and he serves as general counsel for a large number of townships in Kent County and in surrounding counties.

Jim is also an experienced township official, having served for 25 years as chairperson of the Grand Rapids Township Planning Commission. He also served for 20 years as chairperson of the Board of Zoning Appeals of Grand Rapids Township. He is an active member of the Michigan Townships Association and has written and lectured extensively on legal matters affecting townships, villages and public authorities.

A significant portion of his practice involves zoning and other land use matters. He has drafted zoning ordinances for many local governments in Michigan, and his articles on zoning and real property law have appeared in the Michigan Planning and Zoning News, the Michigan Real Property Review, and other publications. He is also active in representing district libraries and other types of libraries established by local governments.

Jim also has an extensive real property law practice, and has been active at the state level as an officer of the Real Property Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan. He served for several years as a member of the Council of the Section. He is a former chairperson of the Real Property Law Section, and been a member of the State Bar Land Title Standards Committee for more than 25 years, and is a former chairperson of that committee.

Jim has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America since 1990, and was named by Best Lawyers as Grand Rapids' Municipal Lawyer of the Year. He is a member of the Michigan Association of Township Attorneys, the Michigan Association of Municipal Attorneys, the Michigan Society of Planning Officials, the American Planning Association, the National Association of Bond Lawyers and the Michigan State Bar Foundation, among other professional organizations.

He is an elected member of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers and has served as a member of several public land use organizations, including the Citizens Committee on Downtown Grand Rapids Zoning.

Jim is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School. His recent publications include articles involving the Michigan Land Division Act, Transfer of Development Rights, the Freedom of Information Act and cases on exclusionary zoning.

Best Lawyers Award Badge

Areas of Practice

Local Government Proceedings
Zoning and Land Use Planning
Local Ordinances
Public Authorities
Municipal Financing
Real Property Transactions
District Libraries, Township Libraries

Bar Admissions

Michigan, 1965

Education

The University of Michigan Law School, Ann Arbor, Michigan
J.D.

Albion College, Albion, Michigan
A.B.
Honors: Phi Beta Kappa

Honors and Awards

Listed in The Best Lawyers in America since 1987, and was named by Best Lawyers as Grand Rapids' 2013 Municipal Lawyer of the Year and as Grand Rapids' 2014 Real Estate Lawyer of the Year

Listed in Michigan Super Lawyers

Selected by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as a 2014 Leader in the Law

Professional Associations and Memberships

Grand Rapids Charter Township Planning Commission
Chairman, 1975-2000

Grand Rapids Charter Township Board of Zoning Appeals
Chairman, 1975-1995

State Bar of Michigan, Land Title Standards Committee
Chairman, 1995-1998

American College of Real Estate Lawyers
Member, Land Use Regulation Committee

State Bar of Michigan, Real Property Law Section
Chairman, 1991-1992

State Bar of Michigan, Real Property Law Section
Council Member, 1984-1992

Michigan Association of Township Attorneys

Michigan Association of Municipal Attorneys

National Association of Bond Lawyers

Michigan Society of Planning Officials

American Planning Association

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