James H. Barrow
I was born in the Nix Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, overlooking the San Antonio Riverwalk, on August 11, 1959. I was raised in a “Leave It To Beaver” household in the Northwood neighborhood of San Antonio. I was lucky enough to attend Alamo Heights schools where academic excellence was expected and nurtured. My father was a prominent judge and my mother assumed much responsibility for daily household goings-on. I was the youngest of 4 sons, and was, I think, taught by both parents a clear difference between right and wrong. There was little grey in this world.
A major part of my childhood was “The Ranch”, a family business headed by my mother’s mother in La Salle and Frio Counties. I cannot recall ever not wanting to go there for weekend or longer visits, often in the company of cousins who became closest kin. Rural South Texas in the 1970’s featured daily excursions 10 miles out to the highway to get mail and the day’s newspaper, a few grainy channels of black and white television of the Dallas Cowboys and “All in the Family”, and many comical rodeos working cattle with family and the hard-working men who hailed from another culture south of the border.
In 1977, I began another education at Southern Methodist in Dallas, followed by a more studious approach at Baylor University Law School. These were seven years of real learning and maturation, in many ways. I experienced a serious accident with a baseball pitching machine in 1981 which actually turned into the first of many great lessons in understanding God’s plan for my life.
I married Alison Chapman in 1985, shortly after returning to San Antonio to begin life in the “real world”. My wife is a very successful residential real estate broker who has been a true friend and anchor in our home. We were blessed with 3 wonderful children in 1987, 1989, and 1995.
The early years of my legal career occurred in an era of great economic turmoil in Texas. I spent most of my time in litigation in state and federal courts, usually defending landlords, banks, or brokers from various types of claims, or else trying to collect some unpaid commercial debt with the client having little expectation of ever seeing any money. There was virtually no positive real estate activity occurring; in fact, for many years the only real estate project I helped come out of the ground was the addition of some carports behind a client’s office building! I compare this period of my career to a football team’s arduous summer training camp, as the experience in adversarial battles prepared me well for a different type of negotiation in a transactional practice. About 1991, the economy began turning and my own clients began actually needing help with leases, contracts and even closings. I have learned much from all of the lawyers I have worked with, including Paul Green, Tom Coghlan, and Doug Becker, to name a few.
In 1996, I began work with Jenkens & Gilchrist, a large Dallas-based firm which had acquired the San Antonio firm of Groce, Locke, & Hebdon. This experience gave me the opportunity to expand my professional capabilities, all over the country, on cases with complexity (and lawyering on the other side) second to none.
In early 2003, I opened my own firm in the Frost Bank Tower in downtown San Antonio, actually my third stint in the building. Since then, the thriving regional economy has taken my practice into its latest chapter with many loyal and new clients developing real estate and natural resources in all sectors of the market. Whether it’s development of one of the world’s largest oil fields, infill commercial projects, ranches, or a new hotel on the River Walk, as the old saying goes, “This is not your father’s San Antonio,” and this is fun!