James K. Zahn

James Zahn is an attorney/architect. He is presently Of Counsel to the Chicago law firm of Bryce Downey & Lenkov LLC. As a registered architect since 1971, he brings a depth of knowledge of the construction industry. Having chaired the Illinois Council AIA Registration and Education Task Force (1983-1988) he received the AIA's highest state award for assisting in the revision of the Illinois Architecture Act, now adopted into law. While working for some of Chicago's largest and most prestigious architectural firms, he was involved in all phases of the practice, including the management of production, specifications, technical matters and legal concerns. His efforts involved the planning and construction of several thousand architectural projects. This understanding of the profession and the industry gives him insight that few other attorneys bring to their clients.


As a member of the AIA and chair of the Illinois Documents Coordinating Committee, he helped draft the 1997 version of AIA A201, General Conditions of the Contract for Construction. In February of 1999, Jim was appointed to the AIA National Documents Committee. He was a past director of the Chicago Chapter CSI. He has also graded the Architect's Examination as a representative for the State of Illinois for six years since 1983. He has been a director of the Chicago Chapter AIA and President of the Illinois Council, AIA. James Zahn is a member of several bar associations, is licensed to practice architecture in Illinois, and holds Council Certification by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. In 2000, James Zahn was elevated to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects. In 2001, he was elevated as a Fellow of the Association of Licensed Architects.  In 2014, he became chairman of the Illinois Architect Licensing Board, and is active with NAAB and NCARB.


Professional Affiliations


Chairman of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Complaint Review Committee, 2013 to present.

National Architectural Accreditation Board, Member of Visiting Team 2013 to present

Vice-President of National Association of Licensed Architects, 2010 to present

Chicago Bar Association

American Bar Association

American Institute of Architects -- Chairman of the AIA Illinois Documents Coordinating Committee that assisted the AIA with 1997 revisions to major construction industry contracts. Elevated to Fellow, June, 2000.

Illinois Council, AIA, past President, 1992

Chicago Chapter AIA

Association of Licensed Architects, Founding Member, Board of Directors. Elevated to Fellow, February, 2001

Construction Specifications Institute

NCARB: certification. Member Multiple Choice Architectural Registration Examination (ARE) Subcommittee, 2012 to present.

Illinois Architect Engineer Council

Construction Industry Affairs Committee




Author, Licensed Architect Magazine. Serves as the legal editor of the magazine sent quarterly to over 10,000 licensed architects. Has a legal column in each issue addressing various legal issues that relate to architects and the practice of architecture.

Co-Author, with Werner Sabo, Construction Specifier Magazine. Has a legal column in the magazine which has a circulation of over 29,000 architects, specifiers and people involved in the construction industry. Columns include diverse legal matters concerning construction law and contract considerations.

Author, AIA Illinois Newsletter and Chicago Architect Magazine. Several articles addressing various legal concerns to Illinois architects.




University of Illinois, Champaign. He participated as a visiting lecturer every semester from Fall 1990 to the present. Lectures to 5th and 6th year architecture students in the architectural program. Topics include AIA documents, professional responsibility of architects, standard of care required of architects, duties of architects under AIA contracts, responsibilities to clients, and related topics.

Notre Dame University, Indiana. Same as above.

Purdue University, Hammond, Indiana. Lectured to students preparing to be contractors. Topics included the construction process, duties of the parties to construction, standards of care, professional ethics and similar topics.

Construction Specifications Institute, various chapters. Lectured to professionals, including architects regarding AIA documents, standards of care, duties to clients, and related topics.

American Institute of Architects, various chapters. Numerous lectures to architects regarding AIA documents, standards of care by architects, duties to clients, responsibilities of architects under AIA contracts, and related topics.

Chicago Women in Architecture. Lectures to architects regarding legal concerns of the practice and standards of care.

Society of Architectural Administrators. Lectures to architectural administrators, school board officials and others administering construction contracts related to duties under the AIA documents.




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