About James

Professionalism is Job One: 

Having practiced law for nearly 20 years in both the public and private sectors, I have learned that professionalism must always be job one and I have made it the cornerstone of my practice and business.  I believe that to be effective, the attorney must be readily available to the client.  The most common complaint I hear about most lawyers is that the client can never get in touch with the lawyer.  I recognize this and strive to make myself available to clients as much as possible.  I recognize that regardless of whether a case is large or small by comparison, every case is a significant matter to the client and requires the utmost attention.  I am committed to presenting clients with solutions to their problems that make both common and financial sense whether that entails formal litigation, informal mediation, or simply speaking on one’s behalf outside of the courtroom.  I often tell clients that they are in charge of their cases; the client makes the big decisions and it is my job to make sure that the client is making informed choices.  I do my best to educate my clients about their situation so that they then have the tools to make those effective and informed decisions.  I may not always be able to tell you what you want to hear, but you will always be aware of the realities of whatever circumstances have brought you to my office.

Professionalism includes quality preparation.  Most cases are not won with a Perry Mason type moment in front of a dozen stunned jurors sitting in a packed courtroom; far from it.  Indeed, less than ten percent of cases ever go to trial at all.  Most often it is the behind the scenes skill set of an experienced and well-versed attorney that make the difference.  Skills such as being able to ascertain all of the facts in the case through proper use of legal tools such as depositions and other discovery, researching and understanding exactly how the law applies to those facts once ascertained, proper filing and arguing appropriate motions to the court such as motions to suppress evidence, being able to evaluate your opponent’s position and likely strategy, identifying the intangibles in a case including evaluation of how a witness might be perceived by a court regardless of her testimony, and the ability to harness these skills to artfully negotiate with your opponent are often what leads to a favorable outcome for the client.   These are all skills I have honed for nearly a decade and a half.                

Passion and Compassion: 

Despite the many attorney ads one sees for aggressive representation, I believe that one size does not in fact fit all.  An effective attorney understands when an aggressive approach is needed and when a more sensitive approach is called for; this applies to both the larger strategy of handling the case as a whole well and to the fine details such as how to examine a specific witness if there is a hearing or trial.  Having participated in thousands of hearings of all sorts, having tried hundreds of cases to the bench, and having tried many cases to a jury, I have a wealth of courtroom experience and can certainly take a hard line in representing a client when necessary. 

Frequently, I find that a more delicate and diplomatic approach better serves a client’s interests such as in cases where family members, friends, or neighbors are pitted against each other and ideally the client would like to maintain an amicable relationship while at the same time solving the problem.  I have learned over the years that maintaining professional and diplomatic relationships with prosecutors, judges, and fellow attorneys tends to pay far more dividends to my clients than taking a “guns blazing” approach to every case.  I genuinely enjoy helping others, the practice of law, and I pride myself on my “soft skills,” as well as my versatility in being able to quickly acclimate and translate my abilities to a wide multitude of tasks and client needs.  I am an avid student of history yet insatiably curious to learn new subjects, whether legal or non-legal, and I see challenges as opportunities to do just that.

Outside of the Office:

I am married to my wonderful wife and I am a father of two young children.  Being a father keeps me on my toes and regularly gives me a fresh approach to life and legal work.  I enjoy doing DIY home improvement projects both indoors and out including landscaping, plumbing, electrical, laying tile, etc.  I have always been fascinated by nature.  During the summer I prefer to be anywhere around water.  I enjoy a variety of outdoor activities including auto racing and scuba diving.  I look forward to May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and I have driven a race car at the Talladega Superspeedway.  I’ve had the privilege of scuba diving in several beautiful places such as Grand Cayman, Aruba, and Mexico.  I am a lifelong Hoosier born and raised in South Bend and, like many members of my family, am a proud graduate of Indiana University.  I enjoy watching IU football and basketball (even when the season isn’t going so well).     

Read Below for More Specifics on My Professional Background: 

I attended Indiana University, Bloomington where I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.  While in Bloomington I worked as an intern in the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office and continued to work there as a paid employee after the internship.  I enjoyed working with the deputy prosecutors there and was very impressed by the work they did as attorneys.  After earning by Bachelor’s degree I moved to Carlisle, Pennsylvania where I attended the Pennsylvania State Dickinson School of Law and earned my Juris Doctor degree.  While in Pennsylvania I worked as in intern at the York County District Attorney’s Office and as a student contractor at the federal probation office (pretrial services division) for the U.S District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. After graduating, I moved to Indianapolis where I worked as an intern for the Marion County Prosecutor’s office and as a law clerk at the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (appeals division) while studying for the bar exam.  Upon passage I began working as a deputy prosecutor at the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office.  I started by prosecuting misdemeanor crimes including drunk driving cases, batteries, conversions, carrying a handgun without a license, disorderly conduct, etc. I moved up to “D-felony” prosecution where my most of my cases involved what would ordinarily be misdemeanors but with the added element of a prior related conviction, or battery involving serious bodily injury.  I moved to the lower felony drug court and then into the major felony drug court.  While in the major felony drug court I handled drug dealing cases of all types and quantities ranging from “street-level” possession with intent cases to large quantity cases resulting from long term investigations by the Indiana State Police, IMPD Metro Drug Task Force, IMPD Dangerous Drug Unit, and other IMPD drug investigation units.  I also handled Possession of a Firearm by a Serious Violent Felon and other felony gun cases.  Some of my other assignments in the major felony drug unit included prosecution of firearms cases in night court and being the designated deputy prosecutor for probation / community corrections violations and modification of sentence petitions.  I later served as supervisor of the civil forfeiture unit and lower felony drug court unit.  I left the prosecutor’s office after some 11 years of service to begin work in a small Fishers law-firm.  While an associate at the firm I handled civil cases of all types including family law, real-estate, landlord-tenant, record expungement, creditor-debtor, bankruptcy, damage to underground facilities, and general civil litigation.  After leaving the small firm I opened my own law office.  In addition to running my private practice, I currently serve as a public defender in Hendricks County where I carry a felony caseload.