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James graduated from the University of Otago with a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts in 2003 and was admitted as barrister and solicitor in 2004. He began his career in New Plymouth where James was a civil litigator and Crown prosecutor between 2004 and 2011 where he prosecuted serious criminal cases on behalf of the Crown and Government departments including murder, manslaughter, serious violence, misuse of drugs, sexual offending and fraud. 


James also maintained a busy civil litigation practice, acting for a number individuals and companies involved in general and commercial disputes. He acted for clients in the energy and farming sectors, a bank and a number of local authorities. James regularly acted for the Commissioner of Inland Revenue in relation to liquidation / bankruptcy proceedings, tax and insolvency matters.

From 2011 until 2014, James was a senior lawyer with the Public Defence Service and for a time acting Deputy Public Defender in Hamilton. From 2014 until going to the independent bar James was a senior lawyer in Hamilton's largest law firm acting for clients involved in a wide range of civil and commercial disputes. He was also the primary contact for clients charged by Worksafe and the Ministry for Primary Industries and those charged in relation to Resource Management Act prosecutions initiated by local authorities.

James is a council member of the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Branch of the New Zealand Law Society. He sits on the Court's committee and has sat as Chair of the Judicial Committee for Equestrian Sports New Zealand and Basketball New Zealand. Between 2014 and 2017 James was the president of the North Hamilton Lions Club and committee member for Northern United Sports Club.

James commenced practice as a barrister sole in February 2018.