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James G. Powers

James G. Powers


In today’s legal environment, Jim is a bit of a rarity. He started at McGrath North as a law clerk in 1982 and has never left. He is now Co-Chair of the firm’s Litigation Practice Group and is a member of the firm’s Board of Directors. The reason for this is simple. Jim loves what he does. He provides clients with expert legal advice, and they know and trust Jim’s judgment. Jim has developed long-lasting relationships with clients who appreciate his no-nonsense legal advice.

Over the years Jim has developed a wide range of expertise in commercial and agribusiness law, eminent domain litigation, and construction litigation. Jim’s focus is on commercial litigation and he provides counsel regarding contracts, commodity and energy transactions, arbitration, bankruptcy, product liability, and land use issues. Clients have learned to trust Jim’s prompt and practical representation and appreciate his cost-effective approach to risk reduction and problem resolution.

Jim’s goal in representing a client is to provide winnable solutions. He has had a unique, broad base of experience over his three decades at McGrath North. Jim’s practice includes the representation of many of the top financial and agribusiness companies in the Midwest. His recent cases include serving as lead counsel for a major oil pipeline in obtaining a permit for it to locate a pipeline in Nebraska including successfully arguing a case of first impression before the Nebraska Supreme Court which affirmed the granting of the permit; obtaining an important decision from the Nebraska Supreme Court in over 40 eminent domain cases; serving as lead counsel for a national grain company in the Syngenta litigation and obtaining summary judgment on its behalf dismissing thousands of cases in the MDL litigation and in Illinois state court; representation of a fiber optic company in over 15 lawsuits brought after a natural gas explosion in Omaha; successfully handling several NGFA arbitration cases involving commodity pricing disputes and successfully handling construction arbitration; and in a very important decision for agribusiness obtained the dismissal of $20 million on preference claims against a forward contract merchant in Oregon Bankruptcy Court.

Jim understands that clients come to him to avoid risk and resolve disputes in their favor. He knows the ultimate decision maker is often a judge or jury and realizes not every dispute needs to end up in their hands, but when it does, Jim’s clients are proud to have him represent them in court.   The bottom line for Jim is that he is never satisfied unless his clients are satisfied, and that is why he has achieved the success he has.

Because of his deep experience and this client satisfaction approach, Jim is broadly recognized as a Chambers USA Band 1 leading lawyer in Commercial Litigation, in Best Lawyers of America and Great Plains Super Lawyers, and by BTI Consulting for his excellence in client service.

  • Creighton University School of Law (J.D., 1984)
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln (B.A., 1980)
  • Nebraska (1984: Sustaining Member)
  • Iowa (2013)
  • U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska (1984)
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit (1985)
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit (2003)
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Iowa (2016)

McGrath North Attorneys Awarded The Most Top Chambers Rankings in 2023



McGrath North's Team Receives Broad Recognition from The Best Lawyers in America® 2024




More Publications

Agribusiness Enters 2021 With Optimism, Headed For Growth

McGrath North Partner James Powers was quoted in the February 19th issue of the Midlands Business Journal within the story titled “Agribusiness Enters 2021 With Optimism, Headed for Growth.”  


Creditor's Alert: Enforceability of Subject to Approval Guaranty Provisions in Credit Applications Requires Approval by YOU.

Tuesday, December 18th, the Nebraska Court of Appeals handed down an important decision affecting creditors’ rights to enforce guaranty provisions contained in credit applications. If you use guaranties in connection with credit applications which provide the guaranty is subject to approval, this decision directly affects you.  

  • Omaha Bar Association
  • Nebraska State Bar Association
  • American Bar Association – Subcommittee on Agriculture and Agribusiness Financing
  • Speaker at regional and local seminars on creditor rights and resolution of commercial disputes
  • Fellow, Nebraska State Bar Foundation
  • Listed: Chambers USA, America’s Leading Lawyers for Business (Nebraska, Litigation: General Commercial – Band 1)
  • Listed: “Best Lawyers in America”, Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Litigation – Banking and Finance, Litigation – Bankruptcy, Litigation – Construction, Litigation – Land Use and Zoning
  • “Best Lawyers in America”, Omaha Lawyer of the Year, Litigation-Banking and Finance, 2016, 2019
  • “Best Lawyers in America”, Omaha Lawyer of the Year, Litigation – Construction, 2015, 2018, 2020, 2022
  • Listed: Great Plains Super Lawyers (Business Litigation, Construction Litigation) 2009-2023
  • Listed: Martindale-Hubbell, AV/Preeminent Rating
  • Listed:  BTI Consulting for unsurpassed excellence in client service.  (BTI conducts annual interviews with more than 250 general counsel of Fortune 1000 Companies.
  • Creighton University Moot Court Board
  • Captain, University of Nebraska Rugby Team, 1979-80
  • Inducted into the Inaugural University of Nebraska Rugby Club Hall of Fame, 2023
  • In Re Application of Ricardo IV Montilla, 2020 WL 2571175 (D. Neb. May 5, 2020)
    • Lead counsel for agribusiness company and successfully objected to an Application pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1782 which sought to obtain discovery to be used in litigation in Venezuela.
  • In Re Application OP-0003, 932 N.W.2d 653 (Neb. 2019)
    • Lead trial counsel for only major oil pipeline company to obtain siting approval in Nebraska through trial and appeal.
  • TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP v. Nicholas Family Limited Partnership, et al., 908 N.W.2d 60 (Neb. 2018)
    • Lead trial counsel for successful party in 40 separate fee disputes at county court, district court, and through consolidated appeal.
  • In Re Syngenta Mass Tort Actions, 2017 WL 54345 (S.D. Ill. Jan. 4, 2017)
    • Lead defense counsel and obtained complete dismissal of client in mass action proceeding including hundreds of millions in dollars in claims.
  • In Re Syngenta Ag MIR 162 Corn Litigation, 2016 WL 4382772 (D. Kan. Aug. 17, 2016)
    • Lead trial counsel and obtained complete dismissal of client in multiple putative class actions including hundreds of millions in dollars in claims.
  • In re Cascade Grain Products, LLC (465 B.R. 570 Bankr. D. Oregon 2011)
    • Lead trial counsel for agribusiness defendant and obtained dismissal of a $20 million dollar preference claim based on “safe harbor” provision of the Bankruptcy Code.
  • ConAgra Trade Group, Inc. v. Fuel Exploration, LLC, (Dist. Colorado 2009)
    • Obtained summary judgment of liability in favor of client on dispute regarding crude oil derivatives.