At that time he returned to Gouverneur and began the study of law in the office of Judge Vasco P. Abbott. Mr. Dolan was admitted to the bar in 1898 and in 1901, the two men formed the firm of Abbott and Dolan. This partnership continued until 1918 when Judge Abbott died and Judge Dolan continued the practice of law in this same office.
An article at the time of his death describes Judge Dolan as an “advocate of the cause of the common man, the friend of the submerged. His early life of hardship always made him sympathetic to the timid who sought justice and those who were thrown into litigation and the courts against their will." Judge James C. Dolan was elected a life member of the board of of St. Lawrence University in 1919, and was elected second vice president of the university In 1935 and held that office until his death. He also served on the building committees for Dean Eaton Hall, Gunnison Memorial chapel, Hepburn laboratory and a men's dormitory.
He was a director of the Bank of Gouverneur. Gouverneur Savings and Loan Association and the Canton Electric Light & Power company. He was a member of St. James Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus, Gouverneur Country Club, Luncheon Club. Citizen Club and the Chamber of Commerce.
After retiring in 1935 Judge Dolan wintered in Florida. He died October 29, 1937 in New York City at age 67 on his way to Florida. The Dolan High School Annex was dedicated to him on October 6, 1937, just prior to his passing.
Portions of this text from a special insert of the Watertown Times, Wed., July 2, 1980, "The One and Only, Gouverneur