James is from Newport, Minnesota, a small suburb located just 10 minutes south of St. Paul. He enlisted in the Marine Corps out of high school and served ten years as an electronics communication technician and a martial arts instructor. James left the military to pursue his legal education at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After law school, he became an assistant public defender representing thousands of clients charged with all types of crimes ranging from misdemeanor driving offenses to multiple counts of first-degree murder. After deploying to Kuwait as a prosecutor and legal advisor to military commanders, he returned to the Midwest, representing numerous clients on various complex legal issues in business, civil, and criminal law. Additionally, James was an adjunct professor at St. Cloud State University and represented Soldiers facing administrative actions from the Army.