James Hess Tressler LLP

Hess, James J. Senior Counsel

Hess, James J. Senior Counsel

Practice Focus

Jim is an experienced attorney in Tressler's Local Government Practice Group. He represents various local government entities, primarily focusing on day-to-day operations for cities, villages, fire protection districts, park districts and library districts. Jim's practice includes handling intergovernmental agreements, ordinances, contract negotiations, administrative proceedings, demolition issues, employment, Open Meetings Act issues, Freedom of Information Act matters and ethics. Jim also handles a variety of land use matters, including Tax Increment Financing districts, redevelopment agreements, annexations and comprehensive planning.

Jim has served as corporate counsel for a number of businesses where he regularly assisted clients with corporate matters, contract negotiation, landlord-tenant issues, real estate transactions and criminal matters. He has also litigated professional liability and personal injury matters as well as commercial and employment disputes.


Professional Background

Jim has a diverse legal background that includes a range of practice areas. During law school, Jim worked as a prosecutor for the Kendall County State's Attorney's office as well as participated in the Elder Law Clinic in which he assisted senior citizens with estate planning and other legal matters. He also spent a summer studying law in France at the Montesquieu University Bordeaux IV.  Jim also worked as a graduate assistant at the NIU College of Business, where he earned the University's Outstanding Graduate Assistant Award. Jim was recently selected as a Rising Star by Illinois Super Lawyers. 

Memberships & Affiliations

Illinois State Bar Association

Chicago Bar Association

DuPage County Bar Association

McHenry County Bar Association

Recent Articles and Blogs

“Land Use Agreements,” Land Use Law: Practice and Procedure, IICLE, 2021
“Land Use Process: Governmental Bodies & Jurisdiction,” Land Use Law: Practice and Procedure, IICLE, 2021

Blog Posts:

"Appellate Court Upholds Firing of Police Officer Following Issuance of Garrity Warning," Local Government Lowdown, October 18, 2022

"Court Rules City Not Liable for Off-Duty Officers’ Actions Following Bar Fight," Local Government Lowdown, September 6, 2022

"Appellate Court Upholds Application of “Open and Obvious” Danger With Dismissal of Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against the CTA," Local Government Lowdown, March 7, 2022 

"Court Rejects Civil Penalties for Failure to Comply with FOIA," Local Government Lowdown, September 7, 2021

"Judge Dismisses Section 1983 Civil Rights Violation Claims Against Local High School Administration," Local Government Lowdown, March 19, 2021

"Court Rules City Not Responsible For Officer’s Actions As A Private Citizen," Local Government Lowdown, March 3, 2021

"Court Confirms Municipal Protections Under the Emergency Medical Services Systems Act," Local Government Lowdown, January 25, 2021

"$3.3 Million in Grants Available to Fire Protection and Ambulance Districts," Local Government Lowdown, December 11, 2020

"Upcoming Deadline for Taxing Bodies to Meet IMRF Website Posting Requirements," Local Government Lowdown, December 7, 2020

"An Evolving Landscape – Public Bodies’ Responsibility to Pay Prevailing Wage to Laborer Landscapers," Local Government Lowdown, May 14, 2020



  • “Are You Allowed to Do That? What Local Government Leadership Must Know About Ethics Requirements,” 108th Annual Conference of the Illinois Municipal League, Chicago, September 24, 2021
  • “Governmental Tort Immunity 2021 Update,” 108th Annual Conference of the Illinois Municipal League, Chicago, September 23, 2021