James was born and raised in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. He spent his childhood getting outside kayaking and exploring the St. Croix River in Stillwater. He went to High School at the School for Environmental Studies at the Minnesota Zoo, a magnet school focusing on environmental topics and issues. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Hamline University where he had the opportunity to volunteer with the White Earth Land Recovery Project on the White Earth Native American Reservation in North Western Minnesota. He completed his law school education at Hamline University School of Law where he took courses on property, state and local governments, and environmental law. During law school he interned with the Center for Biological Diversity as an Endangered Species Act Legal Intern. He studied Arbitration law in London and received the Certificate of Global Arbitration from Queen Mary University of London in 2012. Before moving to Cortez, James practiced law in the Twin Cities area primarily focused on guardianships, probate, and estate succession planning. Helping individuals connect to their communities and environment has always been an important part of James’ life. In his spare time James enjoys hiking and exploring the beautiful four corners area with his family and two rescue pups.