Jim graduated with highest honors (summa cum laude) from the University of Maryland in 1976 with a B.S. in Business Administration. He then attended the University of Maryland Law School, from which he received his J.D., with honors, in 1979. While in law school, Jim interned with the Montgomery County State's Attorney's office, assisting in prosecutions of cases in the District Court; and worked as a law clerk for the defense firm of Gallagher, Clarke, Martell and Donnelly.
On graduation from law school in 1979, Jim worked as Law Clerk to the Honorable William M. Cave, Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland, 1979-1980, sitting in on trials and assisting with all matters handled by Circuit Court Judges.
After completion of his Judicial Clerkship, Jim then worked for 3 years as a litigation associate in the Chevy Chase office of Sachs, Greenbaum and Taylor, primarily handling civil ligation matters.
In 1983, Jim's brother John (later a Circuit Court Judge) and good friend Jim Clifford asked Jim to join their law firm in Gaithersburg, Maryland, which later became Debelius, Clifford and Debelius in 1985. Jim spent the 1980s as a general practitioner, acquiring a broad base of experience in most areas of the law. Jim's practice has since gradually evolved to now primarily focus on complex civil litigation (wrongful death, personal injury, commercial disputes, condemnation proceedings, Will contests, etc.), as well as estate planning (Wills, Trusts, probate, guardianships and associated litigation).
Jim is licensed to practice law throughout the State of Maryland, most often appearing in the Courts in Montgomery, Frederick, Washington, Howard and Prince Georges County. He is also admitted to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.
Jim attempts to amicably resolve matters prior to litigation, however, when litigation is required, he is a very strong advocate, obtaining several verdicts in excess of $1,000,000 (including a 2011 Montgomery County verdict of $3,200,000). He has also handled appellate litigation through the Maryland Court of Appeals (highest Maryland Court).
Jim stays current in the frequently changing areas of Maryland and federal estate taxes, and has a very active practice in the areas of Wills, Trusts and Estates. He is a trusted advisor to hundreds of clients for whom he has prepared estate planning documents. For those who seek to avoid probate, he has extensive experience in drafting Revocable Trusts.
Jim is AV rated by Martindale and Hubbell, a national peer rating service. "A" represents competency and "V" represents ethics, both of which are the highest ratings an attorney can achieve.
Jim has been active in the Montgomery County Bar Association, serving on numerous committees, including but not limited to several appointments to the Judicial Selections committee, which reviews applicants for Montgomery County Judicial positions.
Jim was born and raised primarily in Montgomery County, and has maintained a law office in Old Town Gaithersburg since 1983. He was active in coaching youth softball during his daughter's playing career. He has been active in the local community, having previously served on the Town Council for Washington Grove (1993-1996); as attorney for Gaithersburg Chamber of Commerce (1987-1988); as attorney for the Gaithersburg Washington Grove Fire Department (1985 to present); and as a frequent speaker at community events – most often regarding Wills and Estates.
Jim lives with his wife in Silver Spring, Maryland, along with 3 dogs. He loves outdoor activities and sports of all kinds, is an active bicycle rider (several times completing the 300+ miles from Pittsburgh to Washington DC (along canal), and enjoys travel with family and friends.
Areas of Practice
Personal Injury; Wrongful Death; Commercial Litigation; Condemnation proceedings; Wills, Trusts, Probate and Estates; Will Contests; and Guardianship proceedings.
United States District Court for the District of Maryland
University of Maryland, Juris Doctor, with honors, 1979
University of Maryland, B.S.B.A, summa cum laude, 1976
Montgomery County and Maryland State Bar Associations; Maryland Association for Justice; Beta Gamma Sigma.