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James D Hanrahan.


James D. Hanrahan



Jim Hanrahan is an experienced real estate lawyer representing Massachusetts-based and national companies with all aspects of land-use, including acquisition, financing, permitting and commercial and retail leasing. In addition to his commercial real estate practice, Jim provides outside general counsel services to a statewide Massachusetts non-profit social services agency with an affordable housing development component, including real estate financing through state and federal agencies such as the Department of Housing and Community Development, Community Economic Development Corporation, Department of Housing and Urban Development and programs of the Federal Home Loan Bank.

Clients turn to Jim for representation before Planning Boards, Zoning Boards of Appeal and Conservation Commissions throughout Massachusetts. His expertise includes development of retail shopping centers, office parks, residential subdivisions, multi-family apartment complexes – including C. 40B projects – and nonprofit educational facilities.

Jim’s clients comprise commercial developers of office, shopping center and mixed-use developments as well as large institutional entities, both for-profit and non-profit in the educational sector. “Many of my clients are seeking zoning changes,” Jim explains, “and they include both local developers and national retail, high-tech and assisted living entities.” Clients run the gamut, from very small to very large and include a religious order (cashing out surplus property to fund retirement and health care) and hospital campus developers. “A lot of my clients are long-term clients. They view me in the traditional counselor and advisor role, solving business problems.”

Jim also serves as chair of the firm’s Diversity Committee.

Besides work

Jim is interested in music, all aspects of the arts and writing. “I’ve been a photographer since I was a teenager growing up in Connecticut.” He also writes fiction and poetry and is a “temporarily” retired long distance runner.



  • Chair, Diversity Committee of Bowditch & Dewey, LLP
  • Clerk, South Middlesex Opportunity Council (1989 – present)
  • President and Chair of the Corporation for Sponsored Ministries of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston (2006-present)
  • Member, International Council of Shopping Centers (2000 – present)
  • Member, Firm Management Committee (2001 – present)
  • Member, Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts


  • Foundation for MetroWest Board of Trustees (2010 – 2020)
  • Director, South Middlesex Non-Profit Housing Corporation (1989-2012)

Articles + Talks

Bar + Court Admissions

  • Massachusetts


  • J.D., Boston College Law School
  • B.A., cum laude, Boston College

A trusted advisor to a growing real estate enterprise…from the beginning

A young real estate developer turned to Jim when the client decided to break from the family business and go out on his own. “I helped him with an initial commercial property project located outside of greater Boston,” according to Jim, “and he has continued to check in with me for business and legal advice. Over more than 20 years, this client has expanded his business into an ambitious, sophisticated enterprise.”

Helping a social services agency grow

Jim’s involvement with a non-profit, social service agency goes back more than 25 years. “I started as a board member after one of Bowditch’s senior partners at the time encouraged me to engage in community activity,” Jim explained. Over time, Jim became integral to the planning and growth of the agency, including managing its first venture into the development of affordable housing, a three-family house in Framingham. “We realized that the agency could make an impact on sobriety and homeless issues in our communities. So, we decided to start buying distressed properties and leveraging commercial bank financing with government subsidies.” This strategy provided the client with greater borrowing power and fostered its statewide reach, eventually creating over 2,000 residential units – especially ones located in MetroWest – and growing the annual operating budget from $4 million to $100 million.

“This client agency represents individuals and families coming out of low-end, economically disadvantaged circumstances. Over the years, this has given me a holistic, 360-degree perspective. I’m good at thinking ahead, spotting issues.”

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