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James Burnham is an experienced litigator and legal strategist. As a senior Justice Department official, James led teams litigating matters of national importance and delivered over 30 arguments on behalf of the United States — working with communications experts and in-house counsel across the Executive Branch to develop and implement successful litigation strategies. He has been named a "Rising Star" in appellate litigation by Law360 and a "D.C. Rising Star" by The National Law Journal.

James has handled high-stakes civil and criminal litigation involving many areas of the law, including wire fraud and securities fraud; the Administrative Procedure Act (APA); the Sherman Act; the Securities and Exchange Acts; the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA); the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA); congressional subpoenas and congressional oversight; and the U.S. Constitution. He also regularly counsels clients on managing complex legal risks against a backdrop of intense political or public interest.

James rejoined Jones Day in 2021 from the Department of Justice. As Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Federal Programs and Consumer Protection Branches, James was the federal government's principal advocate in district court and served as the Food & Drug Administration's (FDA) principal outside counsel. And as Senior Associate Counsel to the President, James assisted in vetting, recommending, and confirming judicial nominees — including Justice Gorsuch, Justice Kavanaugh, and then-Judge Barrett.

During his previous time at the Firm, James played a central role in numerous significant matters, including McDonnell v. United States, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, and NLRB v. Noel Canning.

James is a member of the Edward Coke Appellate Inn of Court.


  • Virginia parents obtain injunction against mask mandate in Loudoun County public schoolsJones Day assisted Virginia parents in successfully challenging the Loudoun County School Board’s mask mandate, which required public school students to wear masks throughout the school day regardless of their parents’ wishes.
  • Former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell's corruption convictions unanimously vacated by Supreme Court and DOJ later drops caseIn a decisive victory for Jones Day client and former Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell, the Supreme Court unanimously vacated Governor McDonnell's convictions for public corruption offenses, rejecting the Department of Justice's legal theory and holding that the instructions given to the jury were erroneously overbroad.
  • Experian defends against series of nationwide class actions after breach of T-Mobile applicant dataJones Day defended Experian in series of nationwide class actions after breach of T-Mobile applicant data held by Experian company Decisioning Solutions, Inc.
  • Group of California public-school teachers granted certiorari in First Amendment case challenging mandatory union duesOn June 30, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to a group of public-school teachers represented by Jones Day.
  • Man charged with assault found not guilty following trialOn September 29, 2014, Judge Stephen Eilperin of the D.C. Superior Court found a Jones Day client not guilty of assault charges filed against him by the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia.
  • Noel Canning victorious as U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rules to invalidate President Obama's 2012 recess appointments to NLRBIn a decisive victory for Jones Day client Noel Canning, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the President's three January 2012 recess appointments were unconstitutional under the Recess Appointments Clause.
  • Veteran successfully obtains firearm after attorneys establish lack of prior convictionOn August 30, 2013, Mr. Ronald Kelly, an honorably discharged United States Army veteran, successfully purchased a firearm after having been obstructed from doing so by the federal government.
  • EME Homer City secures major appellate victory in important Clean Air Act appealJones Day assisted EME Homer City Generation L.P. in securing an appellate victory in a case involving an important question of statutory interpretation under the Clean Air Act ("CAA").
  • R.J. Reynolds wins summary judgment in settlement agreement enforcement proceeding against State of MississippiJones Day is defending R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in an action brought by the State of Mississippi in the Chancery Court of Jackson County, Mississippi, alleging that RJRT violated its 1997 settlement agreement with the State.
  • Strong suppression motion results in prosecution's decision to drop highjacking chargeLocked up since May 2011, Mr. Mayes walked out of Cook County jail nearly a year later after he agreed to plead guilty to possession of a stolen motor vehicle, receiving a sentence of felony probation.
  • EME wins dismissal of putative class action alleging violations of Clean Air Act and state lawJones Day is defending EME Homer City Generation, L.P. ("EME"), an independent electrical power producer, in an action brought in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania by a putative class of private individuals.
  • EME obtains dismissal of federal suit alleging violations of Clean Air Act and related regulationsJones Day is defending EME Homer City Generation, L.P. ("EME"), an independent electrical power producer, in an action brought in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania by the Department of Justice and the States of Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey.
  • Knoll resolves dispute involving cy pres fundsJones Day represented Knoll Pharmaceutical Company in connection with a dispute over the use of settlement cy pres funds.
  • Speaking Engagements

    • October 19, 2015
      Supreme Court Declines to Hear Blockbuster Insider Trading Case:What’s Next After United States v. Newman?, The Federalist Society
    • March 27, 2014
      President Obama's "Recess" Appointments: An Executive Power or Abuse of Power?, Georgetown Law School Symposium
    • February 21, 2011
      The Fast-Track Disparity: A Discussion of the Newest Frontier in Federal Sentencing Law