James Austin

Senior Partner

James is "relaxed, very well respected and very thorough".

Chambers [UK 2019]


James grew up in Suffolk and went to school in Norfolk. After a degree in civil engineering from Imperial College, London he switched to law before joining a City firm and spending some time in Hong Kong, qualifying in 1986. He joined Birketts in 1989, quickly becoming a Partner in the Corporate Team and he has played a key role in its growth and the growth of the firm ever since. He is now Senior Partner having taken up the role in June 2016. As such he divides his time between fee-earning and his management responsibilities where he works closely with our CEO, Jonathan Agar. As Senior Partner he chairs both the Partnership Board and the quarterly Partners Meetings and sees one of his most important functions as being the guardian of the firm’s culture.

When he first joined the Corporate and Commercial Team he was required to advise on a broad range of corporate transactional work and no-contentious commercial matters. As the firm has grown some of the practice areas he helped develop have been taken over by others. However, James still has a number of key relationships that he is responsible for and he looks after the commercial interests of a wide range of businesses based all over East Anglia and beyond. This includes the drafting and negotiation of all types of commercial contracts as well as some transactional work.

He also still leads the Corporate and Commercial Team based in the Ipswich office comprising over 20 in number. This sits alongside similar teams based in the firm’s other offices giving Birketts the strongest presence in the eastern region for the provision of corporate and commercial legal advice.

Other Information

'Leading light' James is recommended and names as a Leading Individual by Legal 500 [UK 2020]. 

James has been recognised as an Eminent Practitioner by Chambers [UK 2019]. Sources describe James as "relaxed, very well respected and very thorough". Previous editions say that "he's hugely efficient and gets things done." 

Legal 500 UK 2020 - Leading Individual          Legal 500 UK 2020 Recommended Lawyer

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