color photo of Jim O'Brien

James (Jim) P. O'Brien

Baker & McKenzie LLP


James P. O’ Brien chairs the Firm’s Global Projects Practice Group. He serves as counsel in major project and infrastructure transactions such as power generation and waste recycling facilities. Both on behalf of project sponsors and lenders, Mr. O’Brien has led moving complex projects through development, project financing and operation. He has also been lead counsel on limited recourse project financings, using traditional bank debt, leveraged leases and Rule 144A capital markets issues. And during project development, he has successfully managed complex siting, permitting and transaction issues.

Practice Focus

Mr. O'Brien's power project work includes fossil-fuel, renewable and waste-derived fuel projects. Amid a changing US energy market, his work has shifted to include acquisition and divestiture of power project assets for both financial and strategic parties. Mr. O'Brien serves as outside General Counsel to the largest transmission and distribution utility in Texas, with more than 3 million delivery points. Mr. O’Brien lectures widely on energy and environmental law, and is the author of over 25 articles on various financing transaction issues.

Representative Legal Matters

  • USD515 million acquisition and project financing of Gas-fired Combined Cycle Plant, Hood County, Texas.
  • Acquisition and project financing of Coal-fired Power Plant, Virginia.
  • Development and project financing of Gas-fired Peaking Plant, Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin.
  • USD7.6 billion ScottishPower Acquisition of PacifiCorp.
  • USD4 billion TXU Sale of TXU Australia.

Professional Honors

Recognized in Project Finance Law, Best Lawyers in America, 2014

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Federal Energy Bar Association
  • State Bar of Wisconsin
  • American Bar Association
  • American College of Real Estate Lawyers
  • Chicago Bar Association


  • U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit~United States (1993)
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit~United States (1993)
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois~United States (1988)
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit~United States (1988)
  • Wisconsin~United States (1983)
  • Illinois~United States (1983)


  • University of Wisconsin Law School (J.D. cum laude, Order of the Coif) (1983)
  • University of Notre Dame (B.S. cum laude) (1980)


  • English
  • French
"African Economy Gets New Source of Energy," Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, May 2014