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James Thornhill


James Thornhill
James Thornhill
9200 Forest Hill Avenue, Suite C-1
Richmond, VA 23235
[email protected]

Jim has spent over 30 years advising developers, lenders, purchasers and sellers on environmental, energy and land development matters. His practice is heavily focused on development and transaction based environmental issues including environmental due diligence, Brownfield redevelopment, and environmental permitting and compliance. He has reviewed hundreds of Phase I and Phase II environmental site assessments and compliance audits for a broad range of clients. He has also written articles and spoken on the environmental due diligence. Additionally, Jim handles real estate sales and leases of sites subject to federal and state corrective action using his years of real estate and environmental expertise to manage the transactions while addressing the nuances of post-closing remedial obligations.

Jim has represented developers in assessing and resolving issues for re-development of Brownfield sites for industrial, commercial and residential projects, including use of the Virginia Voluntary Remediation Program and Maryland Voluntary Cleanup Program as well as assisting clients in state level remediation enforcement as well as the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Jim understands not only how to identify and resolve liability issues at contaminated sites, but also how to address the practical implications of residual contamination and development restrictions that may be encountered after the regulator’s sign off on the site.

Jim is experienced in landlord, tenant, owner, operator, trustee and lender liability issues involving underground and above ground storage tanks (USTs and ASTs), hazardous and solid waste, hazardous substances, petroleum, asbestos containing materials, lead-based paint, lead in water, radon, mold, wetlands and navigable waters, endangered species and historic resources.

Prior to joining Wire Gill, Jim was a law clerk for the Honorable Walter E. Hoffman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia followed by 31 years with McGuire Woods LLP. Jim was named "Lawyer of the Year," Environmental Law, Richmond for 2020 by The Best Lawyers in America and has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, Environmental Law, Woodward/White, Inc., 2007-2021, America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, Environment, Virginia, Chambers USA, 2005-2021, and "Legal Elite," Environmental Law, Virginia Business, 2015, 2017. Jim also has an AV Preeminent Rating with Martindale-Hubbell.


  • T. C. Williams School of Law, JD, cum laude, Managing Editor, University of Richmond Law Review, 1987
  • Wake Forest University, BA, 1984


  • Virginia

For analysis and updates regarding environmental due diligence and regulatory matters please visit John Lain’s and Jim Thornhill’s blog: Environmental Due Diligence Files.

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