James L. Buchal, Complex Civil Litigation Specialist


E-mail (no link to minimize spam):

Address:  P.O. Box 86620, Portland, OR  97286

 Telephone: 503-227-1011

 Fax: 503-573-1939

I graduated from Harvard College in 1981 with a degree in physics, and from Yale Law School and Yale School of Management in 1985. With extensive integration of technology into my practice, I can provide large-firm service at much lower rates than large firms charge, while enjoying the benefits of rural living.

Areas of Experience:

  Complex Business Litigation, Including Intellectual Property

  Complex Environmental Litigation

  Complex Energy Litigation

  General Experience, Philosophy and Goals

Complex Business Litigation

I was trained in litigation for 5 years at Cravath, Swaine & Moore in New York City, at the height of the late-1980s takeover boom, serving first as grunt labor and later as team leader in such enormous cases as Republic of the Philippines v. Westinghouse and Pennzoil v. Texaco.  I also developed considerable expertise in securities law, see Appeal Brief in Backman v. Polaroid Corporation, and represented IBM in a number of cases involving allegations of copyright, patent, or trademark infringement and theft of trade secrets.

Since moving to Oregon, I have been trial counsel in several cases concerning disputes over rights to ownership in corporate entities, including, Tifft v. Stevens, 162 Or. App. 62 (1999), Miller v. C.C. Meisel Co., 183 Or. App. 148 (2002), and Thatcher v. Lectro Engineering Co., No. 01-01009-BR (D. Or. settled).  Sample brief:  Summary Judgment Brief in Emmert v. Goforth & Rice.

I also developed a sub-specialty in insurance coverage cases, participating in the leading environmental coverage case St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. McCormick & Baxter Creosoting Co., 325 Or. 184 (1996) as well as coverage disputes such as Protection Mutual Ins. Co. v. Mitsubishi Silicon America Corporation, 163 Or. App. 385 (1999).

More recently, I prosecuted a class action lawsuit against Internet casinos, which settled.

Complex Environmental Litigation:

I moved to Oregon in 1991, representing large electrical consumers in many cases arising under the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and other Federal statutes. Significant achievements included:

  • Setting aside a judgment that suggested that the Federal Columbia Power System hydroelectric dams jeopardized the continued existence of Snake River salmon. See Appeal Brief in Idaho Department of Fish and Game v. National Marine Fisheries Service; see also Summary Judgment Brief in American Rivers v. NMFS.
  • Obtaining a ruling that ocean salmon harvest proceeded in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act. See Appeal Brief in Ramsey v. Brown.
  • Opposing a preliminary injunction action by the United States against the Grants Pass Irrigation District.  The Preliminary Injunction Brief in that case contains a lengthy chronicle of how Oregon and Federal officials manipulated the Endangered Species Act to try to force removal of Savage Rapids Dam, in part by listing a run of coho salmon government witnesses admitted had no chance of going extinct. 

Ultimately, I was moved to write a book about my experiences, called The Great Salmon Hoax.  An address I gave to Northwest Catholic bishops in connection with their forthcoming pastoral letter on the Columbia River appears here on their website.

Complex Energy Litigation:

In the course of assisting large aluminum companies to obtain low-cost hydropower, I developed considerable expertise in interpretation of the Northwest Power Act and other statutes governing the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). Recent appellate briefs filed on their behalf in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit include a challenge to BPA's Business Plan Environmental Impact Statement, a challenge to BPA's Integration of Resources transmission agreements, and a challenge to BPA's power sales contracts.

The Northwest Power Planning Council has posted a legal memorandum I co-authored concerning the Bonneville Power Administration's authority to tax electric power purchasers through increases in transmission rates.

General Experience, Philosophy and Future Goals:

Much of my very recent experience has been litigating against federal, state and local government agencies, cases that frequently turn on arcane doctrines of administrative law. I am by nature a libertarian and particularly enjoy representing those who struggle against government bureaucrats abusing their discretion, even though the deck is stacked against them.

"It's not the size of the dog in the fight that counts, it's the size of the fight in the dog." Dwight D. Eisenhower

List of full-text legal briefs and memoranda

Make Payments to Murphy & Buchal LLP

<div id="paypal-button-container"></div>

<script src="https://www.paypal.com/sdk/js?client-id=sb&currency=USD" data-sdk-integration-source="button-factory"></script>



        style: {

            shape: 'rect',

            color: 'gold',

            layout: 'vertical',

            label: 'paypal',



        createOrder: function(data, actions) {

            return actions.order.create({

                purchase_units: [{

                    amount: {

                        value: '1'





        onApprove: function(data, actions) {

            return actions.order.capture().then(function(details) {

                alert('Transaction completed by ' + details.payer.name.given_name + '!');





Return to buchal.com