Ready. That’s the word that defines Ryan James, the founder of James Law, LLC. Less than a year out of law school, Ryan founded James Law from the spare room of his home located in McKeesport, Pennsylvania because he was eager to make a difference and to help others.
Determined to pursue practical and meaningful results for as many people as he could, the scope of Ryan’s earlier engagements were far reaching, landing him in any court available to pursue justice on behalf of his clients. Ryan criss-crossed Pennsylvania and handled a variety of matters early on, opposing parties like municipalities and public utilities, universities and dioceses, and large and small businesses, be it contractors, insurance companies, or real-estate agencies to name a few.
It didn’t take long for Ryan to be recognized for his work. Local newspapers twice named Ryan as the Readers’ Choice “Best Attorney.” Since then, Ryan has persisted diligently on behalf of his clients, often obtaining successful outcomes such as in the following representative matters:
Not Guilty. After a three day jury trial, client was acquitted of charges of first-degree murder and charges arising under the Uniform Firearms Act. (Allegheny County)
Not Guilty. After a week-long jury trial, client was acquitted of two counts of felony Aggravated Indecent Assault and one count of Indecent Assault (Unconscious), but convicted of the lesser-included offense of Indecent Assault (M2). (Allegheny County)
Not Guilty. In a day-long bench trial, client was acquitted of two counts of felony Aggravated Assault and Terroristic Threats, but found guilty of the lesser-included offense of Simple Assault (M3). (Allegheny County)
Not Guilty. A jury acquitted client of Indecent Assault (M2) following a half-day trial. (Greene County).
Not Guilty. In a co-defendant trial spanning three days, client was acquitted of Possession of a Controlled Substance and Tampering with Evidence. (Allegheny County)
Judgment of Acquittal. After two years of litigation and one previous dismissal, client was acquitted in felony theft and conspiracy case, which involved 2,000-plus pages of documentary evidence. (Allegheny County)
Suppression of Evidence. After suppression hearing, Court held that client’s car was illegally searched by Pennsylvania State Police trooper and accordingly suppressed discovered contraband, which could have justified lengthy prison sentence. (Somerset County)
Sentence Reversed on Appeal. Judge sentenced client to 6 to 12 months in jail without considering individualized sentencing factors. The court’s imposition of the sentence was objected to on the grounds that it inviolated the sentencing code and an appeal was taken. The client was granted a bail pending appeal. In a published opinion, the Superior Court reversed the lower court and vacated the client’s sentence finding that it was not an individualized sentence. Upon resentencing, the client received probation. The case is Commonwealth v. Luketic, 162 A.3d 1149 (Pa. Super. 2017).
Vacated/Remanded. The PCRA court summarily dismissed client’s post-conviction claim seeking a new trial on the basis that his attorney rendered ineffective assistance for failing to argue an obvious defense to the fleeing-and-eluding law. The crux of the claim centered on how the word “markings” was to be interpreted in order for the defense to apply. Did “markings” include a “unmarked” police vehicle’s “lights and siren”? In a published opinion, the Superior Court said that it did not, answering an issue of first impression, and vacating the PCRA court’s order. In a concurring/dissenting opinion, Judge Bowes opined the client should’ve been entitled to a new trial immediately. The case is Commonwealth v. Durrett King, 2018 PA Super 239 (Aug. 29, 2018).
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel. After a PCRA hearing, Court vacated client’s prior sentence that had made client a “Person Not to Possess a Firearm,” and granted a new trial on the grounds that client’s prior attorney rendered ineffective assistance of counsel. Result of new trial allowed client’s constitutional right to bear arms to be restored. (Allegheny County)
* Ryan frequently serves as court-appointed, post-conviction counsel. He has served as post-conviction counsel for well over 75 Post-Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) petitioners, many of whom are serving life sentences.
Non-Jury Verdict. Following four years of litigation and a three-and-a-half day bench trial, clients were awarded $70,000+ in damages and attorneys’ fees in a civil action alleging claims of fraud and violations of Pennsylvania’s Seller Disclosure and Unfair Trade Practices acts. (Allegheny)
Dismissal for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction. Allegheny County judge sustained preliminary objections for lack of personal jurisdiction, which had the effect of dismissing a contract suit (seeking triple damages) against an out-of-state, home-appliance manufacturer.
Grant of Partial Summary Judgment. Court entered partial judgment on behalf of client who sued municipality for overcharging municipal fees.
Truly, Ryan’s passion for people drives his commitment to excellence. It’s that passion, too, that has also committed Ryan to give his time as a volunteer attorney with the Neighborhood Legal Services Association and the federal district court; to serve as an arbitrator in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas; and to serve as his community’s former solicitor.
Outside of his practice and community involvement, however, Ryan can generally be found in South Park Township where he resides with his wife, Kristen, their son, Oake, and their two boxers, Lucy and Gunner. In their spare time, both enjoy traveling, sporting events, and the company of their family and friends.
- U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
- Thomas M. Cooley Law School, J.D., magna cum laude
- Law Review, Managing Assoc. Ed.; National Moot Court Team
President’s Achievement Award
Distinguished Student Award
John D. Voelker Award
The Fitzgerald Award
The Earl Dayton Award
- Allegheny College, B.A., cum laude
- Alden Scholar
- Michigan Supreme Court
- Allegheny County Bar Association, Member
- Solo/Small Firm Section, Fmr. Vice-Chair
- Young Lawyers Division
- Planning Ahead Committee
- State Bar of Michigan
- Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- Center for Plain Language (Board Member)
- East McKeesport Zoning Hearing Board (Solicitor)
- Borough of White Oak, Pa. (Fmr. Solicitor)
Honors and Awards
- 2018 Super Lawyers, Pennsylvania Rising Stars list
- 2018 The National Trial Lawyers, Top 40 Under 40 Criminal Lawyers (Pennsylvania)
- 2015 Readers’ Choice (Silver Award) Winner-“Best Attorney,” Trib Total Media
- 2014 Readers’ Choice (Gold Award) Winner-“Best Attorney,” The Daily News
- 2013 Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest, Whirl Magazine/Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (W.Pa.)