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J. Thomas Macdonald


Brittany Frysinger, 303.575.7543


Tom Macdonald has substantial experience across a broad spectrum of transactional real estate, and real estate and land use litigation, with three distinct specialties:  (1)  real estate transactions, (2) workouts, foreclosures and bankruptcy, and (3) land use and constitutional litigation. Tom represents commercial lenders with a particular emphasis on loan foreclosures, workouts, bankruptcies and mechanics’ lien litigation. In addition, Tom represents clients in all types of real estate transactions. In the litigation context, Tom represents clients in complex litigation involving land use and governmental regulation.

Tom is also well known for his expertise in land use and Constitutional litigation matters. He is routinely called upon to assist with cases that involve due process and other facets of Constitutional law.

Specialty Practice: Land Use and Constitutional Litigation 

Tom represents both local governments and developers in land use and constitutional litigation. Tom has had the opportunity to participate in a number of high profile land use cases which have arisen out of the firm's large and complex land use practice. For landowners, these cases include Bd. of County Comm'rs of Douglas County v. Bainbridge, 929 P.2d 691 (Colo. 1997), in which the firm's clients successfully challenged the authority of Colorado counties to impose school impact fees, and Rocky Mountain Christian Church v. Bd. of County Comm'rs of Boulder County, 612 F. Supp. 1163 (D. Colo. 2009), aff'd 613 F.3d 1229 (2010), cert. denied 13 S. Ct. 178 (2011), in which a local government was ordered to approve an expansion application for the firm's religious client. A notable case in which he represented the government was Hillside Community Church, S.B.C., v. Olson, 58 P.3d 1021 (Colo. 2002), in which the Colorado Supreme Court reversed a judgment against the firm's client for violation of procedural due process. Tom has taught at numerous continuing legal education programs in this area and recently authored the chapter on Colorado law for the book Development Impact Fees in the Rocky Mountain Region, Second Edition, published by the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute.

Prior to attending law school, Tom worked as a newsman for the Associated Press in Denver, his native city. He currently serves on the firm’s Marketing & BD Committee.

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  • Presenter: Dusty Roads - The Creation, Scope and Use of Rural Easements and Public Access Rights, CBA-CLE, September 24, 2012
  • Contributing Author: Chapter 5-Land Use Regulation of Medical Marijuana Facilities, in Colorado Medical Marijuana Law by Ann Toney, JD (2012)
  • Otten Johnson Alert: New Rules for Business and Real Estate Litigation in Denver Metro Area (January 2012)
  • Author: Should Receivers Sell Property? Colorado Real Estate Journal, August 23, 2011
  • Otten Johnson Alert: Sales of Property by Receivers (August 2011)
  • Author: Chapter on Real Estate Transactions in Lawyers' Professional Liability in Colorado (2d ed. Michael T. Mihm, ed., 2010)
  • Co-author: Restructuring Troubled Real Estate Loans (July 2009)
  • Author: Chapter on Colorado in Development Impact Fees in the Rocky Mountain Region (2d ed. J. Bart Johnson, James van Hemert eds. 2006)

Awards & Involvement

  • Colorado Lawyers Committee Board of Directors (2015-present)
  • University of Colorado at Denver: Conflicts Review Board (2013-present)
  • Super Lawyers (2006, 2010-2019)
  • Best Lawyers, Litigation-Land Use and Zoning (2009-2021)
  • Top Rated Lawyer in Land Use and Zoning (2013)
  • Chambers USA Band 1 Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use (2008-2011)
  • "AV" rating from Martindale-Hubbell


  • State of Colorado
  • American Bar Association
  • Colorado Bar Association
  • Denver Bar Association


  • J.D., University of Colorado School of Law; graduated first in his class; Order of the Coif
  • B.A., University of Colorado