About James L. Ugalde

Jim Ugalde is a partner with the firm’s Financial Services Group, providing legal advice and representation to a variety of landlords, lenders, banks, secured creditors, equipment lenders/lessors and other financial institutions regarding their rights and remedies in enforcing their leases or loans under state law and in bankruptcy cases.

His experience includes representing clients in the following types of matters:

  • Perfection and enforcement of their rights under security documents and the Uniform Commercial Code, including asset-based financing and leasing.
  • Out-of-court workouts, including forbearance agreements and amendments to address defaults under lease or loan documents.
  • Collection of funds owed under leases, loans, and judgments, and foreclosure of security interests, including deeds of trust, under state law.
  • Advising commercial landlords regarding their contractual and statutory rights, including enforcing such rights through eviction actions and other self-help remedies, including lockouts and landlord’s lien sales.
  • State court enforcement matters, including pre-judgment, litigation, and post-judgment proceedings.
    Bankruptcy matters under Chapters 7, 11 (including subchapter V), and 13, ranging from stay relief litigation and contested plan confirmation issues to non-discharge claims and related adversary actions in bankruptcy.
  • Jim is also experienced in negotiating and documenting transactional documents for distressed credit and tenant situations including pre-negotiation agreements, forbearance agreements and modifications to various loan and lease documentation, with a heightened sensitivity to protecting a creditor’s rights and remedies in light of the COVID-19 pandemic (i.e., identifying specific needs of a debtor/tenant that the creditor/landlord remedies to the satisfaction of the debtor/tenant to avoid arguments that the creditor/landlord failed to work with the debtor/tenant in the event of a future default under any modified agreement).


    • Arizona
    • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, 2013
    • U.S. District Court, District of Arizona, 2003
    Representative Engagements
    • Represented national lender regarding loan enforcement after default seeking foreclosure and appointment of receiver over collateral including multi-family residence locations in multiple jurisdictions.
    • Represented lender with enforcement of lien and security interests in real property and FF&E with multiple franchise operations of national restaurant/hotel chain.
    • Represented equipment leasing & finance company with enforcement and recovery of car washing equipment at multiple locations of national gas station operation.
    • Represented equipment leasing company’s interest in bankruptcy regarding assumption/rejection issues and lease recharacterization.
    • Represented lender that foreclosed on commercial property with forcible detainer action to remove a national retail boat dealership, involving bankruptcy court litigation and requiring numerous sheriff’s deputies to assist with takeover of commercial property.
    • Represented landlord with trial to evict operating fitness gym from multiple locations.
    • Representation of licensee holder of F.C.C. licenses in contested bankruptcy proceedings to protect licensee holder’s interests and the purchase of assets through Section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code.
    • Successfully litigated stay relief and plan confirmation issues in Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases involving operating businesses and commercial real estate projects.
    • Successful trial verdict in favor of landlord over dispute involving tenant’s purported renewal option of commercial lease.
    • Representation of landlord group in litigation against tenant for lease default and fraud claims regarding misappropriation of tenant improvement funds.
    • Representation of commercial landlord interests in bankruptcy of national retail restaurant operator involving lease assumption and rejection issues under Bankruptcy Code.
    • Significant experience with commercial eviction cases and litigation to enforce commercial guaranty agreements in connection with enforcement of landlord rights.
    • Successfully litigated trial verdict (after obtaining stay relief in contested bankruptcy proceedings) through Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision regarding valuation of collateral in enforcement of deficiency claim against guarantors after foreclosure of commercial real estate. See Fannie Mae v. LaRuffa, 702 F. App’x 505 (9th Cir. 2017).
    • Successful appeal for bank client after winning summary judgment against personal guarantor. See BMO Harris Bank, N.A. vs. James Galusha, 1 CA-CV 19-0549 (App. 2020), Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One.

    James L. Ugalde

    • Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management, Certificate Leadership Program (2018)
    • Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University (J.D., cum laude, 2003)
      • Pedrick Scholar (Dean’s List)
    • Arizona State University (B.S., magna cum laude, 1999)
      • Major: International/Global Business
      • Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society Collegiate Schools of Business
    Honors & Awards
    • Selection for inclusion in Best Lawyers in America® in the area of:
      • Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law (2022)
    • Selected for inclusion in Southwest Super Lawyers® Rising Stars:
      • Bankruptcy & Creditor/Debtor Rights (2012-2014)
      • Creditor Debtor Rights (2015-2016)
    • State Bar of Arizona, member
    • Turnaround Management Association, member
    Community Involvement
    • City of Chandler, Arizona (Chairman of Board of Adjustment)
    • Habitat for Humanity – Central Arizona (Member of Public Relations & Marketing Committee)
    • Volunteer Lawyers Program of Maricopa County (Volunteer)