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James Kurtz-Phelan


Spencer Fane attorney James Kurtz-Phelan square

T 303.592.8323
F 303.839.3838

As a highly-experienced Denver real estate attorney, James L. Kurtz-Phelan offers clients solutions that contribute to their growth and success. His thorough knowledge of real estate and his 40-plus years of experience guides his clients through the most complex real estate transactions.

In his practice, Kurtz-Phelan advises clients in acquisitions, sales and development of residential and commercial real estate projects, as well as ranches and other rural sites. He successfully managed the entitlement and development work on a number of large residential subdivisions throughout the Front Range and mountain communities, condominium and townhome projects in urban areas, shopping centers and resort developments.

Throughout his career, Kurtz-Phelan has demonstrated an ability to attend to details while handling complex real estate projects. Whether representing his clients before a planning commission or helping clients close a complex loan transaction, he adds value to every transaction and assists clients any way he can.

Highlights of James’ experience include:

  • Provided environmental due diligence representation to a national retailer with over 30 store sites throughout the Rocky Mountain region. For one of the sites in Denver, he negotiated a prospective purchaser agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which allowed the client to redevelop a Superfund site. This site was one of the first projects to reuse a contaminated site approved by the national and state governments.
  • Has been involved in a number of residential loft projects in downtown Denver and several first- and second-home developments in Colorado mountain communities, including the conversion of resort hotels to condominium hotel ownership and the acquisition of three contiguous ranches totaling over 5,000 acres in size.

Presentations and Publications

  • Kurtz-Phelan has written extensively on various topics for The Colorado Lawyer and other publications.

Community Involvement

  • Board Chair, Rocky Mountain Region Board, Anti-Defamation League, 2016-present
  • Member, National Civil Rights Committee, Anti-Defamation League, 2015-present
  • Member, National Commission, Anti-Defamation League., 2004-present
  • Member, Rocky Mountain Region Board, Anti-Defamation League, 1999-present
  • Member, Board of Directors, Jewish Community Centers of Denver, 1994-2011
  • Member, Board of Directors, Herzl Jewish Day School, 1985-1993
  • Member, Board of Directors, American Jewish Committee, 1983-1986
  • Legal advisor to the Colorado governor, 1979-1982
  • Adjunct Professor, University of Denver College of Law, 1975-1979
  • Assistant Attorney General of Colorado, handled land use and transportation matters, 1975-1979
  • Clinical law teacher, University of Denver College of Law, 1972-1975


  • Member, Real Estate Law Section Council, Colorado Bar Association, 1994-1997
  • Member, Court Reform Committee, Colorado Bar Association, 1982-1986
  • Member, Judicial Selection and Benefits Committee, Denver Bar Association, 1982-1984


  • Colorado Super Lawyers, 2009-2019
  • Finalist for Lawyer of the Decade, Law Week Colorado
  • Best Lawyers in America, Real Estate Law, 2013-2023
  • Denver Magazine, Top Lawyer, Real Estate, 2010

Contact James Kurtz-Phelan at 303.592.8323 or jkurtzphelan@spencerfane.com.