James has worked at Birketts since 1977, when he joined as an articled clerk, having read law at Cambridge University and achieving a First in his final year. James qualified as a Solicitor in 1979 and during his early years in the firm, did a wide range of mostly non-contentious work for both business, private and charity clients. Formerly an equity Partner, James is now a Senior Solicitor based in our Ipswich office and part of the Ecclesiastical and the Agriculture and Estates teams.
Over the years James' work has become more focused, first on company/commercial matters, then on property, adding charity and ecclesiastical law, which are the areas in which he currently specialises.
Memorable incidents have included: obtaining an acquittal for an Ipswich Town supporter, who James was convinced was guilty of breaching the peace at a match; completing approx. 150 simultaneous purchases and mortgage for tenants buying the freehold from their housing association; singlehandedly negotiating private company takeovers with three or four solicitors in a city firm on the other side; writing wills for successful bidders at a charity auction of promises and guiding a local agricultural charity through a major constitutional re-write. James' varied experience in different fields of law can still be an advantage even in today’s very specialist legal world and maybe that’s why for over 30 years, he was entrusted with a succession of Trainee Solicitors in his room for six month periods.
James has done a wide range of legal work for the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich since the mid 1980’s, becoming first Deputy-Registrar and then in 1998 Diocesan Registrar and Bishop’s Legal Adviser. He is also Deputy Registrar for the Diocese of Norwich and assists Stuart Jones in his role as Registrar for the Diocese of London. The work has been varied and stimulating – record-keeping and document-preparation; clergy discipline; church schools and education matters; property transactions; attendance at and advice to senior diocesan staff, boards and committees; general advice to all and sundry - from bishops to prospective marriage couples and church treasurers; unlocking trust funds for better use … his learning continues.
James has been a reader in the ministry team for his local church for over 25 years and is a member of the Lawyers Christian Fellowship. He has lived in a village near Ipswich for some 40 years, enjoying the countryside and playing his part in the local community.
James' dual aims as a Solicitor are to make law simple and keep things legal; trying to achieve this has been particularly fulfilling in the context of his work for the Church of England.