James D. Nelson

Associate in Law

Office: Jerome Greene Hall
435 West 116th Street
New York N.Y. 10027
Tel: 212-854-2305
Email: james.nelson@law.columbia.edu
  • J.D., Order of the Coif, University of Virginia School of Law, 2009
  • B.A., with high distinction, University of Virginia, 2006


James Nelson’s research bridges corporate and constitutional law. His current work seeks to develop a normative and legal theory of various corporate rights, particularly those raised under the First Amendment. He is also interested in issues of corporate form and corporate identity, and in the law of religious accommodation.

Nelson comes to Columbia Law School from the U.S. Department of Justice, where he served as a trial attorney in the Federal Programs Branch of the Civil Division. Before joining the Department of Justice, he clerked for Judge Jerry E. Smith on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In law school, he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Virginia Law Review, and received the Roger and Madeleine Traynor writing prize and the Robert E. Goldsten Award for distinction in the classroom.


  • The Freedom of Business Association, 115 Colum. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2015)
  • Conscience, Incorporated, 2014 Mich. St. L. Rev. (forthcoming)
  • Note, Incarceration, Accommodation, and Strict Scrutiny, 95 Va. L. Rev. 2053 (2009)