James Rokakis

Of Counsel
Cleveland +1.216.771.1000
Washington D.C. +

Jim Rokakis is Vice President of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy and Director of its Thriving Communities Institute. He is involved in a variety of activities, including the establishment of 15 County Land Banks throughout Ohio and working with Ohio communities in Columbus and Washington, D.C. to raise funds to deal with distressed properties.

Growing up in Cleveland’s Archwood-Denison neighborhood, Jim Rokakis saw firsthand how neighbors helping neighbors could strengthen an entire community. Elected as the youngest member of Cleveland City Council at age 22, Jim embarked on a 19-year tenure that saw several successes in reversing neighborhood blight, redeveloping Downtown Cleveland, creating the Cleveland Housing Court and serving as chairman on the influential Finance Committee for his last seven years on Council.

Rokakis served for 19 years on the Cleveland City Council – the last seven as chairman of the finance committee. In 1997, Rokakis took office as Cuyahoga County Treasurer. Faced with Cuyahoga County’s mortgage foreclosure crisis, Rokakis helped to write and pass House Bill 294, which streamlined the foreclosure process for abandoned properties. Additionally, Rokakis was the driving force behind a bill that allowed for the creation of the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation, also known as the Cuyahoga County Land Bank. He is the recipient of numerous local, state and national awards, including being named “County Leader of the Year” by American City and County Magazine. Recently, Rokakis was featured on the CBS program “60 Minutes”, discussing the need to fund demolition in distressed urban areas. He was the driving force behind the Ohio Attorney General’s decision to allocate 75 million dollars of Ohio’s 98 million dollars from the robo-signing settlement for demolition, and helped to put the Ohio program and its rules into place.

Rokakis earned his undergraduate degree at Oberlin College and his Juris Doctorate degree from Cleveland-Marshall School of Law.

Practice Areas

Governmental Liability and Municipal Law
Land Use Planning/Land Conservancy
Bank Regulation
Real Estate Law
Public Policy
Tax Policy
Industry/Sector Experience
Capital Markets
Banking/Financial Services
Private Equity/Venture Capital
Public Law
Government Services
Real Estate/Development


Cleveland State University, Cleveland Marshall College of Law, J.D.
Oberlin College, B.A.

Bar Admissions

Ohio, 1984