James H. Bownas's Profile Image

James H. Bownas

Phone: (614) 233-4702

I help businesses and the families who own them get a better night’s sleep, knowing that their financial and personal objectives are implemented. I’ve been practicing law in Columbus for nearly fifty years, with an emphasis on people and their legal and practical needs.


  • Earned Martindale-Hubbell "A-V” peer review designation

Representative Experience

  • Vice President, Secretary, and General Counsel of one of the three largest owners and managers of rental real estate in the United States, successfully reorganized under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code, and New York Stock Exchange listed.
  • Formed, owned, and operated a retail food service business with four Columbus locations.
  • Negotiated, structured, and closed the purchase of a $7,000,000 construction business.
  • Designed and implemented a multimillion dollar Employee Stock Option Plan ("ESOP") for a major regional food distributor, including the tax-deferred purchase by the ESOP of the stock of the founders.
  • Negotiated, documented, and closed the refinancing of $5,800,000 of mortgage and commercial indebtedness of a nonprofit corporation with proceeds from bond financing by the Columbus-Franklin County Finance Authority.

Significant Cases

  • In re: Cardinal Industries, Inc. and Substantively Consolidated Entities, Bankruptcy No. 2-89 02779, United States Bankruptcy Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division.


  • Harvard Law School, J.D., 1971
  • Xavier University, B.S., cum laude, 1968

Bar Admissions

  • Ohio, 1971
  • United States Tax Court, 1971
  • United States Supreme Court, 1971
  • United States District Court, Southern District of Ohio
  • United States Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Ohio
  • United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

Professional Affiliations

  • Columbus Bar Association
    – Estate and Gift Tax Committee
    – Business Tax Committee
    – Real Estate Law Committee
    – Securities Law Committee, Past Chair
  • Ohio State Bar Association
    – Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law Section
    – Banking, Commercial, and Bankruptcy Law Committee, Past Secretary
  • American Bar Association
  • Catholic Foundation Professional Advisors Group
  • Worthington Estate Planning Council
  • Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio, Certified Lemon Law Arbitrator
  • Ohio Bar College

Community and Civic Involvement

  • Orange Township Business Association
  • Friends of the Library
  • Columbus Bar Foundation
  • Emerald City Players, Board of Directors
  • Prep Academy Schools, Board of Directors
  • Friends of the McCoy Center for the Arts
  • St. Francis DeSales High School Alumni Association
    – Chair, Planned Giving Committee
  • Xavier University Alumni Association, Past President
  • Ohio Bar Foundation

Publications and Presentations

  • "Notary Wars," Columbus Bar Association, 2011
  • "Federal and Ohio Estate Taxes," John L. Sauter Memorial Estate Planning Seminar, 2011
  • "Taxes Affecting a Decedent's Estate," Ohio State Bar Association, 2007 - 2011
  • "Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law Certification Review," Columbus Bar Association, 2008
  • "Is an LLC Right for You," National Business Institute, 2007
  • "The Amazing ESOP," Financial Planning Summit, 2007
  • "Asset Protection Strategies," Central Ohio Estate Planning Council, 2007
  • "Keeping the 'Fun' in Funerals," Dublin Retirement Village, 2007
  • "Adding Asset Protection to Your Practice," National Business Institute, 2006
  • "Drafting Effective Wills and Trusts," National Business Institute, 2006
  • "Drafting LLC and LLP Agreements in Ohio," National Business Institute, 2006
  • "Estate Planning Fundamentals," Better Investing National Convention, 2006
  • "Overcoming Title and Bankruptcy Obstacles During Foreclosure," National Business Institute, 2006
  • "Counseling the Small Business," National Business Institute, 2005
  • "Demystifying Asset Protection Vehicles," National Business Institute, 2005
  • "Ohio Estate Planning Fundamentals," National Business Institute, 2004
  • "Effective Estate Planning for the Small Estate," National Business Institute, 2002
  • "Family Limited Partnerships and LLCs," National Business Institute, 2002

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