James Tancula

James E. Tancula

Of Counsel

James Tancula is Of Counsel with Pugh, Jones & Johnson. Jim has represented clients in commercial and other civil litigation matters in federal and state courts, domestic and international arbitrations and in administrative agencies for 36 years. 

Jim’s practice has focused on energy and construction-related matters along with varied commercial and real estate litigation matters. His construction work has involved both litigation and negotiating agreements for many types of buildings, sports arenas, and convention centers and for varied infrastructure projects, including pipelines, railways, tunnels, transmission lines, and roads.  His energy work has included upstream and downstream oil and gas matters, electrical generating facilities, and alternative energy technologies including wind, solar and biofuels.  His commercial experience includes representing clients in disputes and negotiations involving utility fuel and other feedstock contracts, equipment and rolling stock contracts, and various other disputes governed by the Uniform Commercial Code or similar foreign or international codes.  He also has litigated cases involving stock or asset transfer contracts, partnership agreements, limited partnership control issues, employment and professional services contracts, and franchise agreements.  Jim has also defended clients involved in civil RICO, bank fraud and other fraud cases. He has represented clients in product liability cases, including mass tort cases, ranging from petrochemicals to heavy equipment.

Jim joined PJJ in September 2018 after retiring from Mayer Brown LLP where he was an equity partner for nearly 28 years.  At Mayer Brown, Jim served at various times as the partner-in-charge of its Los Angeles office, head of the U.S. construction practice, and one of the leaders of the international arbitration group.  During his tenure at Mayer Brown, he was a resident in its Chicago, Houston, and Los Angeles offices.


  • Represented City Colleges of Chicago in an AAA construction arbitration brought by the general contractor of the new Malcolm X College campus.
  • Represented a major steel company in arbitrations and court regarding various commercial disputes with an iron ore mining company.
  • Represented a wind farm owner against a manufacturer of wind turbine generators in a AAA arbitration for warranty claims due to the mid-radius cracking of blades and the failure of over half of the electrical generators.
  • Represented an alternative energy company against fraud and breach of contract claims relating to solar energy market issues.
  • Represented a Central Asian nation and its state-owned oil and gas entities in three ICC arbitrations where more than $3.5 billion in damages were claimed by the foreign parties.
  • Represented a longwall mining equipment manufacturer in an ICC arbitration brought by the owner of a coal mine in Western Siberia who was seeking to recover more than $100 million for alleged defects in the design of the equipment and for late delivery.
  • Represented a mining equipment manufacturer in an inventor-state dispute against the Arab Republic of Egypt relating to a phosphate mine in Egypt.
  • Represented a Brazilian steel manufacturer in a contract dispute with a seller of metallurgical coal when the Global Economic Crises that began in 2008 resulted in the inability of client to take its contract requirements.
  • Represented a U. S. manufacturer of paper machines in a contract dispute over the supply of two paper machines to Indonesian pulp and paper mills. At the time, they were the largest, fastest paper machines ever manufactured.
  • Defended an engineering firm in an ICC construction arbitration against claims of malpractice, cost overruns and delays relating to the detailed design, construction management and procurement services of a cogeneration facility in The Netherlands.
  • Obtained dismissal of British and American companies and their officers in protracted federal RICO litigation related to claims of Mexican bank fraud.
  • Defended engineers who designed an area drainage system in a malpractice claim brought by a group of homeowners who claimed millions of dollars in damages arising from catastrophic flooding.
  • Defended an engineering firm against allegations that it failed to design a subdivision in accordance with floodplain requirements in litigation seeking actual and punitive damages totaling $50 million.
  • Defended an engineer in a lawsuit brought by a municipal water utility alleging that a six-mile reinforced cast-in-place concrete water tunnel could not withstand operating pressures and therefore must be lined with steel.
  • Defended an engineer against delay and cost overrun claims by a contractor relating to construction of a co-generation plant at a major state university.

Service and Memberships

  • American Bar Association
  • Texas Bar Association
  • International Bar Association
  • International Council for Commercial Arbitration
  • Marquette University College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Board (2014 to Present)
  • Chicago Bears Season Ticket Holder Advisory Board (2011-2013)


  • Co-author, “International Chamber of Commerce Enacts New Expert Rules Aimed at Efficiency,” May 2015
  • Co-author, “Shale Gas Issues: Squeezed Between Necessity and Reality,” February 2012


  • Co-presenter, webinar, “Arbitration v. Litigation, Choosing Your Dispute Resolution Method Wisely,” November 2017
  • Co-presenter, PLI’s Fall 2016 Pocket MBA: Finance for Lawyers and Other Professionals, Chicago, November 2016
  • Co-chair, 4th ITA-IEL-ICC Joint Conference on International Energy Arbitration, Houston, TX,  January 2017