James E. Torgerson
Jim is an Alaska-based partner in the firm’s Litigation Group. Over the last 30 years, he has tried to conclusion in excess of 40 cases, most to federal or state juries. He has handled more than 30 appeals, arguing cases in the Alaska Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Jim’s practice focuses on complex civil litigation, with an emphasis on commercial, corporate and property issues.
In its recent annual survey of America’s best attorneys for business, Chambers and Partners reported that sources say Jim is “wise beyond his years. He’s just the guy you’d call to say ‘Help, what do I do?’” Best Lawyers in America selected Jim as Litigation – Environmental Lawyer of the Year for Anchorage for 2012 and 2016, and Litigation – Real Estate Lawyer of the Year for Anchorage for 2015. Super Lawyers repeatedly has selected Jim as one of the “Top 10” lawyers in Alaska.
Jim has represented major oil and gas companies, Alaska Native corporations, electric utilities, telecommunications companies, professional services firms, nonprofit organizations and individuals. His counseling and litigation experience includes:
- Property disputes, including disputes involving oil and gas interests and Alaska Native property issues
- Breach of contract
- Trade secrets, fraud and other business torts
- Mergers and acquisitions litigation
- Corporate governance
- Product liability and other torts
- Professional liability (including accounting and legal malpractice)
- Environmental litigation
- Criminal matters in federal and state court
- Class actions
- Employment litigation, including ERISA disputes
- Regulatory matters, including state attorney general issues
Jim currently serves as the firm’s Managing Partner. He oversees the firm’s strategic management in concert with the firm’s Executive Committee and administrative leadership team. Jim came to Stoel Rives from Heller Ehrman LLP, where he was managing shareholder of its Anchorage office for 10 years. Before that, he was chief of the civil division (four years) and chief of the criminal division (two years) in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska, and a Special Assistant Attorney General for the State of Alaska in Washington, D.C.
- Served as Lead Trial Counsel for the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) owners in property tax litigation involving its value.
- Defended a Big Four accounting firm through jury trial against allegations of professional negligence and breach of fiduciary duties. The jury rejected all of plaintiff’s claims.
- Defended four major oil companies through trial and in regulatory appeals in a real property dispute involving an oil drilling and production site.
- Defended Alaska’s largest electric utility against multiple breach of contract claims. All claims were dismissed by the superior court, with all dismissals affirmed by the Alaska Supreme Court.
- Defended a major pipeline company in a multimillion-dollar breach of contract and promissory estoppel dispute. All claims were dismissed by the superior court, with all dismissals affirmed by the Alaska Supreme Court.
- Defended an insurer in state and federal court against a class action challenging the insurer’s claims handling practices. The suit was resolved without payment to the class.
- Defended an oilfield services supply company in a $50 million products liability action concerning the destruction of an oil rig. All claims against client were dismissed.
- Defended a statewide telephone utility against claims for over $30 million based on the cost of cleaning allegedly contaminated sites.
- Defended an oil industry manager against federal environmental criminal charges, all of which were abandoned pre-indictment.
- Defended a major Alaska municipality against qui tam (False Claims Act) claims, all of which were dismissed.
- Defended a national pharmacological publisher against qui tam claims, all of which were dismissed.
- Defended an Alaska state senator against charges brought by the Alaska Public Offices Commission that he violated financial reporting rules. The trial court dismissed all charges, with the dismissal affirmed on appeal by the Alaska Supreme Court.
Professional Honors & Activities
- Selected by Best Lawyers® as Litigation-Environmental Lawyer of the Year, Anchorage, 2012 and 2016; and Litigation-Real Estate Lawyer of the Year, Anchorage, 2015
- Listed in Best Lawyers in America© (currently: Commercial Litigation, Litigation-Environmental, Litigation-Mergers & Acquisitions, Litigation-Real Estate, Natural Resources Law, Professional Malpractice Law-Defendants), 2012-2016
- Selected as one of "America's Leading Lawyers for Business" (Alaska) by Chambers USA (currently: Litigation: General Commercial), 2005-2016
- Selected as a "Litigation Star" by Benchmark Litigation, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2016
- Selected as a "Top 10 Alaska Super Lawyer," 2011-2014, by Alaska "Super Lawyer," and listed for Business Litigation, Criminal Defense: White Collar, Energy & Natural Resources, 2007-2015
- Selected by Corporate International Legal Award as "Litigation Attorney of the Year in Alaska," 2015-2016
- AV Peer-Review Rated by Lexis-Nexis Martindale-Hubbell, 1999-present
- Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America
- Fellow, American Bar Association Foundation
- Member, American Bar Association
- Member, Federal Bar Association
- Lawyer Representative to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, 2002-2005
- Co-Chair, Alaska Lawyer Representatives to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, 2003-2005
- Co-Chair, Alaska Legal Services Fundraising Campaign, 2000-2001, 2005-present
- Commissioner, selected by the Federal Court for the District of Alaska, Alaska Rural Justice and Law Enforcement Commission, 2004-2013
- Member, Alaska Judicial Council, 2014-present
Publications & Speaking Engagements
- September 27, 2014 – Facilitator, Off the Record with the Alaska Supreme Court
- August 3, 2012 – Tribal Law Alert: All Indian Tribes Can Lease Tribal Land Without BIA Approval
- April 27, 2011 – Litigation Law Alert: Alaska Supreme Court Clarifies the Business Judgment Rule for Board Members
- Co-Chair, Endowment Campaign, Alaska Community Foundation, 2015-present.
- Member (Secretary, 2008-2009; Vice Chair, 2010-2012), Board of Directors, Alaska Public Telecommunications, Inc., 2004-2013
- Member, Board of Directors, Anchorage Museum Foundation, 2012-2015
- Member (President Elect, President and Past President, 2004-2010; Chair, Endowment Campaign, 2008-2010), Board of Directors, Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, 2003-2011
- Co-Founder and Co-Chair, Anchorage Youth Court, 1987-1988
- Member (President, 2003-2004), Board of Directors, Anchorage Youth Court, 2001-2005
- Member (Vice President, 2005-2007), Board of Directors, Disability Law Center, 2004-2007
- Member (Secretary, 2010-2011; Chair, 2011-2012; Vice Chair, 2012 - Present), Board of Trustees, The Nature Conservancy (Alaska), 2009-present
- Member, Board of Directors, University of Washington School of Law Alumni Association, 2010-present
- University of Washington School of Law, J.D., 1984
- Bethel College, B.A., 1980, with honors
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- Washington (inactive)
- U.S. District Courts for the District of Alaska and the Western District of Washington
- U.S. Court of Federal Claims
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
- U.S. Supreme Court