From the Basement to the Walker Building: How One Entertainment Lawyer Followed a Dream to Broadway
Opening his office in 1998 in the basement of his then Wallingford house, Walker left the big firm life of Robinson & Cole and launched Walker & Associates, a Stamford-based law firm that specializes in real estate, litigation, and entertainment law. And he never looked back.
Fast-forward nearly 10 years, and Walker and a small team of ten or so full and part-time employees move into a new corporate headquarters by purchasing their own office building on Long Ridge Road in Stamford.
“It’s been a long journey, but I feel like it’s all starting to come together,” said Walker, preparing for a big Urban Impact music conference that his firm organizes each summer at Foxwoods Casino and Resort and in the middle of purchasing five multiunit real estate buildings for his sister companies J.Walker Realty, LLC, and JW Consulting LLC.
It is this type of event and transaction that distinguishes Walker’s firm from other regional entertainment law boutiques.
Walker, an adjunct faculty member at UConn Law School, spends his time writing articles, sitting on panels, hosting conferences, and providing TV commentary and legal analysis for BET, CBS, and Court TV, to name a few.
Over the years, he has represented everyone from super-hot rapper DMX, to R&B legend Freddie Jackson, to TV icon Dr. Bobby Jones of BET and WNBA superstar Ruthie Bolton-Holifield, among dozens of other high-profile clients in entertainment and sports.
Mentor and longstanding friend John C. Brittain quips that Walker represents a new breed of lawyer coming on the scene in the African-American community.
“James leads a dynamic law office embarking on multidiversified ventures in entertainment law, real estate and television . . . just an incredible success story,” said Brittain, a former dean of the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University in Houston and the chief counsel and senior deputy director for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, D.C.
Walker was raised by his grandparents in part and credits their upbringing for helping him as well as providing a Christian foundation for his life. At a young age Walker understood the opportunities a good education would provide. He worked full-time while attending Howard University undergraduate school, Howard University School of Law, and Yale University Divinity School.
“His fairness and values have carried over into his character as a lawyer, and we are all so proud of his success and accomplishments, which we all know were a struggle, but his faith in God kept him focused,” says his grandmother Lillie J. Carr.
In addition to his great legal career, Walker is the president of the New Beginning Family Academy (NBFA) Board of Directors in Bridgeport, a charter school for inner city kids.
“James’s passion for the law and commitment to Bridgeport youth has resulted in the donation of countless billable hours of legal advice and work by Walker and Associates to help our K-through-8 public charter school,” said board member Ronelle P. Swagerty. “His collaborative management style and strong leadership has elevated the board and helped shape the school into a results-oriented institution. We are thrilled to have such a legal scholar at NBFA.”
And, even clients gave Walker credit for his legal acumen.
“James is a loyal friend and a rigorous business executive,” said Antipas Harris, lead singer of the group A7, a client of Walker and top artist in the gospel industry. “He is very concerned about the success of his clients.”
“In the complex entertainment industry, it is very rare when you meet someone, create a working relationship with them, and at the same time discover certain aspects of your life’s “purpose,” said top industry publicist Rhonda Ridley. “That’s what it’s been like since meeting entertainment attorney James L. Walker and his team. We at Affinity Public Relations are in awe of his passion, energy, honesty, and faith.”
Walker is a husband and the father of four children.
James L. Walker, Jr., has spent the past decade building a practice that combines entrepreneurship, careful marketing, and a lot of hard work.