James Leavell spent forty two years working for Continental Banking in Chicago. The final seventeen years he spent as their president. During his tenure as president, he experienced three different stages in which the banking world was changed; he saw over the loss of prestige in the banking industry, the Great Depression, and the rebirth of faith in the banking industry . He was also a founder of the Association of Reserve City Bankers. Leavell retired at sixty three years of age from the banking industry.