James G. Sawtelle


Jim Sawtelle, partner-in-charge of Venable’s Denver office, is an experienced trial attorney who practices at the intersection of commercial litigation and intellectual property. Jim has been a trusted advisor for his clients—which range from individuals to Fortune 500 companies—for more than three decades. The culmination of his vast experience is a track record of significant wins throughout the United States. Whether he is in the courtroom or in a client’s boardroom, Jim is a proven advocate with a results-driven approach to legal services.

A skilled litigator, Jim has tried to verdict over 50 civil jury and bench cases in state and federal courts . He has also played an active role in arguing and briefing a number of appellate cases. His contributions in these matters have resulted in many refinements to existing laws.

Jim has been nationally recognized as a thorough and communicative advocate. He provides exemplary representation, thoughtfully guiding clients through their most pressing legal issues with a keen awareness of their unique business goals. He is skilled at choosing the right tactics—such as proactive counseling and risk analysis, dispute resolution by settlement, or going to court —tailored to his client’s particular goals. Jim’s strategic approach, deep industry knowledge, and legal savvy have made him skilled at navigating all areas and elements of complex commercial litigation.


Government Experience

  • Assistant Attorney General for the State of Colorado, 1999 – 2000

Representative Matters

  • Won a jury verdict of $16.7 million, which included $15 million in punitive damages, while serving as an investor group’s lead counsel in a matter against a multinational corporation
  • Successfully negotiated a settlement valued at $13.5 million for 79 small businesses while serving as a lead trial counsel in a commercial dispute against a government entity
  • Developed a multi-state litigation program to remedy financial losses incurred from a series of contract disputes on behalf of a marketing firm. Won more than $4.2 million in favor of the client
  • Served as the co-trial counsel in an infringement lawsuit regarding a real estate brokerage opposing a national franchise. Earned a $4 million settlement in favor of the client
  • Served as the co-trial counsel in the defense of a Digital Millennium Copyright Act and Lanham Act case dealing with claims against a software development organization for more than $56 million
  • Successfully negotiated a pre-trial, no-payment dismissal and release while serving as a defense counsel for a U.S. television broadcasting group. Skillfully eliminated multi-million-dollar damages claims brought forward by a terminated C-suite employee of the client
  • Won a defense verdict in an arbitration hearing on behalf of an international veterinary education provider. Successfully defended the client against claims of copyright infringement and breach of license agreement involving their teaching materials

Representative Clients

  • Served as outside counsel to one of the country’s largest media companies for more than two decades. Skillfully oversaw numerous legal matters, including commercial litigation, intellectual property, employment counseling and litigation, contract negotiations, data privacy / security, class action defense, consumer protection, executive compensation and benefits, brand licensing agreements, mergers and acquisitions, and joint ventures




  • J.D. with distinction University of Iowa College of Law 1991
    • Associate editor, University of Iowa Law Review
  • B.A. with distinction University of Iowa 1988
    • Phi Beta Kappa

Bar Admissions

  • Colorado
  • Iowa

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court of Colorado
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa

Professional Memberships and Activities

  • University of Iowa Law School Foundation
    • Member, Board of Directors
    • Member, Executive Committee
  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Member, Colorado Bar Association
  • Member, Faculty of Federal Advocates


  • Super Lawyers
    • IP Litigation, 2011 – 2024
    • Top 100 Lawyers, Colorado, 2018, 2024
  • Best Lawyers in America
    • Commercial Litigation, Denver, 2020 – 2024
    • Intellectual Property, Denver, 2013 – 2024
  • Chambers
    • Litigation General Commercial, Colorado, 2013 – 2023
    • Intellectual Property, Colorado, 2018 – 2020
  • Managing IP, IP Stars, Copyright Star and Trademark Star, Colorado, U.S., 2014 – 2023
  • American Bar Foundation, Life Fellow, 2016 – present