Jim is a native of Damariscotta. He attended Castner Grammar School (now the Municipal Offices) and Lincoln Academy where he took first place in the 1967 Maine State Science Fair.  Following graduation he enrolled at MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Illinois where he met his wife Barbara.  They married in 1970 and following graduation, moved back to Damariscotta where Jim went to work for Chapman-Hall Real Estate.  Two years later he and his wife and two-week old daughter Jennifer packed all their belongings in a small U-Haul trailer and moved to Topeka Kansas where Jim attended and graduated from Washburn University of Topeka Law School.  They then returned to Maine where Jim took and passed the Maine Bar exam in February of 1977.  He immediately went to work as an Assistant District Attorney and became the Deputy District Attorney under Frank Harding the following year.

In December 1979 Jim opened his own office over his garage on Bristol Road and shortly thereafter built the the firm's building at 181 Main St, where he has practiced ever since.  In 1987 Jim and his late partner Gordon E. Stein formed the partnership of Gallagher and Stein which he operated until Gordon’s sudden death in November of 2004.  Following Gordon’s death Jim continued to operate the practice under the name of Gallagher and Stein until January of 2013 when he and his daughter Jennifer Gallagher Villeneuve became partners in the practice of law. In January of 2014 Jim turned the daily operation of the practice over to his daughter but continues to serve his clients, working part time.

With his newly found time Jim has gone back to some of his hobbies that he often had too little time to pursue while practicing full time. Jim has flown small aircraft since 1964 and currently owns a four place plane that he keeps at Wiscasset, using it for local flying and some trips to visit his other children in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.  He and Barbara enjoy traveling and have camped all over the United States and much of Canada.  Jim also is an avid woodworker spending much of his evening time in the basement shop building Christmas presents for his eight grandchildren.

During the time when he was a full time practitioner, Jim also served on many local boards such as Lincoln Academy Board of Trustees, the Lincoln Academy Alumni Board, the MOBIUS Board of Directors and the Lincoln Home Board.  He has been a board member of the Damariscotta Region Information Bureau and served as Chairman of the St. Patricks Church building committee.

During this time Jim also spent twenty years as Lincoln County Commissioner, having sought and been elected for five successive four-year terms.  During that time Jim served as Chairman of the County Commissioners for seven years and served as Chairman of the Maine County Commissioners’ Association and the County Commissioners Insurance Risk Pool.  He also served as a Director and delegate to the National Association of Counties (NACo), representing Maine and its interests in the National Association.

Now semi-retired Jim looks forward to watching his daughter carry on the legal profession, a profession that was handed down to him from his father, Hon. Ralph A. Gallagher, who practiced law in Damariscotta from 1935 until his death in 1965, served as Judge in what is now known as the District Court in the 1950s.