James E. Nelson

Nelson James

Jim Nelson is a co-chair of the Technology, Media, and Commercial Group, member of the firm’s Management Committee, and partner-in-charge of Venable's San Francisco office. Jim focuses on intellectual property-centered businesses that emphasize the development, production, and commercialization of IP assets. He manages a range of commercial contract and outsourcing engagements, in addition to general corporate work forming and financing companies and supporting them in mergers, sales, acquisitions, and joint ventures. His clients range from emerging growth to Fortune 50 companies—often located or acting globally—in technology, media and entertainment, music, life sciences, financial services, and hospitality, among others.

In his IP transactions work, Jim focuses on the revenue side of his client’s business, supporting clients creating value through the use of IP. This includes providing strategic business advice and drafting and negotiating commercial agreements. He has broad experience in the life sciences field working with agreements covering all aspects of innovation and product development as well as product manufacturing, distribution, and sale. His media and entertainment work involves substantial work in licensing IP assets of various types, including managing name, image, and likeness deals and the formation of new companies and joint ventures to commercialize new product offerings. For technology-driven companies, he is particularly focused on the development, protection, and leveraging of various solutions and their related IP rights, whether they are driven by new technologies (e.g., AI or LLMs) or are more traditional approaches. Many of the technology deals involve the development and commercialization of software, whether as bespoke solutions or standardized products—delivered via the cloud or made available locally. Such deals regularly include the use, protection, and monetization of data as well. In many of these transactions, Jim works closely with Venable’s deep bench of IP and regulatory attorneys to cover all aspects of such transactions and his clients’ larger business.

He also has particular experience with sourcing transactions, working with both major corporate customers and technology and business process vendors. Jim has led sourcing transactions involving the development, implementation, or use of technologies, as well as business process outsourcing services, including real estate management. These sourcing deals have been competitive bid and sole source, and many have involved working in cooperation with third-party intermediaries.

As part of his general corporate practice, he provides counsel to companies of all sizes in corporate matters, whether focused on financings, mergers, or acquisitions or assisting them with the analysis, triage, and disposition of the wide variety of legal matters they confront.


Government Experience

  • Legislative Correspondent, United States House of Representatives, Office of Representative Jan Meyers (R-KS)
  • Legislative aid, United States House of Representatives, Office of Representative Tommy Robinson (R-AR)




  • M.B.A. University of Chicago 2003
  • J.D. cum laude Tulane University Law School 1995
    • Phi Delta Phi
    • Senior notes and comments editor, Tulane Maritime Law Journal
  • B.A. Washington University in St. Louis 1989

Bar Admissions

  • California
  • New York
  • Illinois

Professional Memberships and Activities

  • Member, Licensing Executives Society 
  • Member, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society 
  • Adjunct faculty member, Northwestern Law School
  • Adjunct professor, Loyola University School of Law, 2002 – 2004


  • Variety, Dealmakers Impact Report, 2021, 2023
  • The Best Lawyers in America, 2019 – 2023
  • IAM Patent 1000, The World’s Leading Patent Professionals, 2013 – 2015, 2017 – 2019, 2021 – 2023
  • Legal 500
    • Technology: Outsourcing, 2012 – 2018, 2021
    • Technology: Transactions, 2011 – 2012, 2015 – 2018, 2021– 2023
  • Chambers USA
    • Recognized Practitioner, IT & Outsourcing: Outsourcing, California, 2017
    • Technology & Outsourcing (Band 3), New York, 2011 – 2016