Jim Hamilton focuses his practice on civil and criminal litigation, congressional and other investigations, trade association representation, appellate litigation, and advising clients on government and professional ethics. He represents various corporations, government and corporate officials, political figures, professional athletes, accountants, and lawyers.
Among Jim’s prominent cases are the representations of Sens. DeConcini, Durenberger, and Talmadge before the Senate Ethics Committee. He also successfully argued in separate cases to the US Supreme Court that attorney-client privilege survives the death of a client and that survivors have a right of privacy under the Freedom of Information Act. Jim has been involved, e.g., in the Fannie Mae investigations and litigations, the Major League Baseball steroids investigations, litigation involving law firms and legal ethics, litigation regarding Indian gaming, copyright litigation, False Claims Act litigation and the well-publicized investigation into the leak of a CIA operative’s name, in which he represented the late columnist Bob Novak. He has also conducted a number of confidential internal investigations for major institutions. Jim is additionally general counsel of a prominent Washington-based trade association.
Jim was assistant chief counsel of the Senate Watergate Committee. He served as deputy chief counsel in the Alaska Senate Impeachment Inquiry in 1985, and during 1983–1984 was special counsel to the Human Resources Subcommittee, Post Office, and Civil Service Committee, US House of Representatives, for its investigation of the 1980 Ronald Reagan campaign. Jim was chief counsel of the Special Joint Committee on Referendum Review for the Congress of Micronesia in 1978. He also served as the Clinton-Gore transition counsel for nominations and confirmations and as the principal Clinton White House vetter for Supreme Court nominations. Jim was in charge of vetting vice presidential candidates in 2000 for Al Gore and in 2004 for John Kerry, and served in a similar role for Sen. Obama in 2008. He also vetted candidates for Cabinet, the Department of Justice, White House, and Supreme Court for the Obama administration. And he headed Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential vetting operation.
Jim is a past member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. In 2011, President Obama appointed Jim to the Board of the USO, and he now chairs the Board’s Governance Committee and serves on its Executive Committee. Jim wrote The Power to Probe: A Study of Congressional Investigations, published by Random House and supported by a Ford Foundation grant, as well as numerous articles in national newspapers, magazines, books and professional journals. Recently, he co-authored “Taking Stock of the STOCK Act” (Fall 2012) and “Congressional Investigations: Politics and Process” (Summer 2007), both of which were published in the American Criminal Law Review, and wrote “The Senate Watergate Committee: Its Place in History and the Discovery of the White House Tapes (Fall 2012),” which was published in the Baker Center Journal of Applied Public Policy.
Davidson College, 1960, Artis Baccalaureate
Yale Law School, 1963, Bachelor of Laws
The London School of Economics and Political Science, 1966, Master of Laws
District of Columbia
US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
US Court of Federal Claims
US Court of International Trade
US District Court for the District of Columbia
US Supreme Court
Awards and Affiliations
Recognized, Criminal Defense: White-Collar, Washington, DC, The Best Lawyers in America (2018, 2019)
Recognized, Washington, DC Super Lawyers
Recognized,Civil Litigation Defense, Super Lawyers Corporate Counsel Edition
Best Lawyer, Washington Magazine
Davidson College Distinguished Alumnus Award (2006)
One of Washington’s Top Lawyers (Criminal Defense, Investigation), Washingtonian (December 2004)
Board of Governors of the United Service Organizations, Inc. (USO)
Executive Committee of the Yale Law School Alumni Association
Life member, Davidson College Board of Visitors
Former chairman, Legal Ethics Committee of the District of Columbia Bar
Former chairman, District of Columbia Bar special committee tasked with instructing more than 50,000 members of the DC Bar about new DC rules of ethics
Former member, President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board
Former Board member, Ethics Resource Center
Chairman of the District of Columbia Bar special committee to educate the bar on new ethics rules that received the bar’s highest award for public service (1991)
Army Commendation Medal while serving as a first lieutenant in the United States Army
Ford Foundation Travel and Study Grant to write book on congressional investigations