James E. Nelson

Nelson James

Jim Nelson is a co-chair of the Technology, Media, and Commercial Group and the 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 his general corporate work forming and financing companies and supporting them in mergers, sales, acquisitions, and joint ventures. His clients range from startups to emerging growth and Fortune 50 companies—often located or acting globally—in technology, media and entertainment, music, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, financial services, hospitality, and consumer products, among others.

In his technology 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, including licenses, and distribution and end-user agreements involving premises, or outsourced or cloud-based business models. He has extensive experience with leveraging the Internet and those technologies that underpin its secure operation and growth. 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 early-stage companies in corporate matters, assisting them with the analysis, triage, and disposition of the wide variety of legal matters they confront.


Government Experience

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




  • 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

  • New York
  • Illinois
  • California

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