James L. Sonneborn

“I represent people who come to me with a desire to solve problems and they expect me to think strategically, creatively and collaboratively to achieve that goal.”  

With more than 25 years of experience working as an expert litigator, arbitrator, mediator and appellate lawyer in Central and Northern New York, Jim has the experience and passion to solve a variety of problems for his clients. His expertise includes prosecution and defense of civil cases, partnership and shareholder disputes, negligence, contracts, torts, legal malpractice, and securities arbitration. Past clients include individuals, businesses, organizations and government offices throughout Central New York and the Adirondack Region. Decades of experience as a successful trial attorney and negotiator have proven that Jim brings all the skills and creativity necessary to solve complex legal problems for his clients.

Whether working alone or leading a team of legal experts, Jim provides the strategic guidance and legal insights that clients depend on to solve their problems. With a history of working with numerous important clients in the region, and his longtime work with, and support for, local civic and community groups, Jim has earned a reputation throughout New York State as a lawyer of exceptional integrity. As a result, Jim is widely sought after by a wide variety of clients for his advice and counsel every day.

Jim’s credentials include experience as:

  • Named partner of his own law firm based in Central New York for over 20 years
  • Law faculty member at the University of Wales
  • Visiting professor at Syracuse University College of Law, where he also served as co-director of the SU Securities Arbitration Clinic
  • Clerk for the Hon. Francis Bergen of the New York Court of Appeals
  • Counsel to the Office of Clinical Legal Education at Syracuse University College of Law

Business owners and institutional leaders depend on Jim because he listens to them and uses what he learns to solve their problems. He has worked closely with entrepreneurs and launched and directed several small businesses of his own, giving him valuable business experience. Jim’s clients also benefit from his years of economic development and board leadership including years spent advising community organizations and nonprofits throughout Central New York and the Adirondack Region.


Jim approaches every client problem as an opportunity. After careful study, he tailors strategies that deliver results for his clients. His experience and skills allow him to weigh the situation, find points of opportunity and leverage, and consistently meet or exceed client goals.

For Jim, the law is one tool among many. He combines his legal expertise with ample business experience, community engagement, and professional industry leadership.  Jim has handled a wide variety of disputes. As head of the litigation practice group at Bousquet Holstein, Jim leads a committed team with complementary skills, working together to deliver unparalleled client service.

Litigation • Arbitration • Mediation

What do you hope to achieve?
Positive client experiences start with clear expectations. As you consider legal counsel for the problem you are facing, it is important to consider Jim’s approach to litigation—the definition, process, and practical expectations—so that you have a clear understanding of the typical process, your role in that process, the resources available to you, and the possible opportunities and risks.

In some cases, litigation is best treated as a tool to achieve an outcome. When managed well, litigation puts the facts in the context of applicable law as a way to you closer to your long term goals. For Jim and his team, litigation is not an outcome in and of itself.

Successful litigation begins with careful fact gathering and thorough research. Using input from you, the client, Jim draws connections between your situation and applicable statutes and legal precedents. This preliminary analysis allows Jim to deliver exceptional client guidance that includes a variety of options for achieving your goals. Only after this collaborative discussion will Jim initiate litigation or develop your defense. You, the client, will always make the final decision.

To a business owner, litigation can mean unexpected costs or a source of revenue. If you are pursuing litigation, in many cases the benefits are direct, such as the award of financial gain, intellectual property rights or an injunction to limit competitors or opponents. In other cases the benefits of litigation are indirect, especially in the case of settlements that create a new business relationship, enhance your reputation or credibility, or resolve outstanding issues. In other cases, like those where you are a defendant, litigation is involuntary. But no matter what brings you to litigation, in every case you must measure the potential risks and rewards throughout the process.

When you engage in litigation, whether from a dispute related to estate administration, securities or a personal injury matter, preparation, client engagement and practical analysis are the keys to a successful result. Jim and the rest of the litigation team at Bousquet Holstein  treat their work as collaboration with you, their client. In order to reach your goals, the team treats litigation as one tool among others—including arbitration and mediation—that can lead you to achieve your goals.

How Jim can help you…

Whether you need to resolve a dispute or require the guidance and counsel necessary for a civil case, Jim’s 25 years of litigation, arbitration, mediation, business and community leadership experience can help you achieve your goals and resolve complex legal problems. Jim regularly appears in federal, state and appellate courts, as well as in alternate dispute resolution forums. As the head of the firm’s litigation practice group, and as experienced legal counsel for both individuals and businesses of many kinds, Jim will help meet your individual, professional or institutional legal goals.

His primary areas of practice include:

Commercial Litigation

  • bankruptcy
  • business torts
  • construction
  • contracts
  • creditors’ rights
  • deceptive trade practices and unfair competition
  • environmental
  • insurance
  • employment and discrimination
  • real estate and real property tax
  • securities
  • tax litigation

Personal and Civil litigation

  • partnership and shareholder disputes
  • negligence
  • contracts
  • legal malpractice
  • securities arbitration
  • torts
  • personal injury

If you have any question about whether Jim is the best fit for your needs, please don’t hesitate to contact him. While he recently assisted a well-known Fortune 500 company as well as one of the 50 largest financial services firms in the country, Jim’s ability to solve problems, resolve legal issues, and leverage wide-ranging expertise make him a powerful, highly sought-after counselor for individuals, companies, and organizations of every kind.


  • Submitted amicus brief on behalf of eight counties located partially or entirely within the Adirondack Park.
  • Acted as counsel to the Office of Clinical Legal Education at Syracuse University, College of Law.


  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Rated
  • Onondaga County Bar Association
  • Northern District Bar Association, Committee of Alternate Dispute Resolution, Co-Chair

Community Involvement

  • Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA), Chair, Board of Directors
  • Adirondack Bureau of Wildlife Conservation Society, Member, Advisory Board
  • BluSeed Studios, Member, Board of Directors
  • Paul Smith College, Trustee
  • Coordinated for Volunteer Center
  • Former Board Member:
    • The Volunteer Center, Inc.,
    • Visiting Nurses Association
    • Child Care Council of Onondaga County
    • Syracuse Sports Corporation
    • Leadership Greater Syracuse
    • FOCUS Greater Syracuse
    • Huntington Family Center
    • Stone Quarry Hill Art Park
    • The Adirondack Council

Jim conducts training programs and courses on board responsibilities and how to be a good board member. He has been invited to give talks at Syracuse University College of Law as a visiting professor and has served as a co-director of securities arbitration clinic. He has organized and run programs on mediation training for the Federal Court Bar Association 


We all look back at the people and events that have made us who we are. When I do that retrospective there is a natural division between people, places, and events. Everyone will list important people, usually family or a teacher or mentor. I was very fortunate in that way. The chance of the family I was part of provided me with great role models and huge opportunity.

Beyond the gift of family there were a few events in my life before I went off to college that were particularly formative. The summer after I graduate from high school I worked as a Fuller Brush Man. Door to door all summer with a satchel of mop heads, brushes, samples, etc., eleven (11) doors that opened meant seven sales. It was a reality my boss predicted and he was right every week. Gas was $.32/gallon and I was making $500.00/week. In nine (9) weeks I lost 11 pounds and entered college weighing just under 140lbs. I learned a lot about rejection (slamming doors), determination and hard work.

I spent many summers in the Adirondack Park. I learned of people and places and how they can interact well, or not. I learned about living lightly on the planet and leaving a small footprint. Camping teaches you the value of shared work and collective betterment. The Adirondack Park, a mix of wild space and human imprint teaches how people can, if they choose, live in harmony with their environment. Being deep in the woods can make you feel very small, vulnerable and self-reliant. Being on top of a mountain can give great pleasure and appreciation for the majesty of nature. Loading hay by hand or splitting wood for the winter reminds one of the power of humans and the need for humanity.


J.D., Case Western Reserve University, Order of the Coif
B.A., University of Virginia, Economics


New York
U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
U.S. District Court, Northern, Southern, Western, and Eastern Districts of New York

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