James K Vines (Jim)


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James Vines

T: +1 404 572 4822
F: +1 404 572 5100

T: +1 202 383 8921
F: +1 202 626 3737

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Jim Vines, a former U.S. Supreme Court law clerk and United States Attorney, is a partner with  King & Spalding’s Environmental, Health & Safety (EHS) practice group.  He has more than 25 years of experience in the EHS field and has handled matters in a broad variety of international jurisdictions including Europe, Canada, Latin America, MENA, Asia, Eurasia, and Australia. A significant portion of Jim’s recent domestic and international work has been managing privileged internal investigations and related agency negotiations following industrial accidents and workplace fatalities.

Jim heads up the firm’s Health & Safety sub-group which advises and defends clients in federal and state plan OSHA matters as well as international health and safety matters. He frequently advises clients on compliance with OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) standard and on other process safety issues beyond the reach of PSM. On the environmental side, he has counseled and represented clients in litigation related to most of the major federal environmental laws and many counterpart state laws. Over the course of his career, he has represented clients at over 400 federal CERCLA (“Superfund”),  RCRA Corrective Action, and state counterpart environmental clean up sites. As United States Attorney, Jim prosecuted federal environmental crimes in his district and was a member of the U.S. Attorney General’s Environmental Issues Sub-Committee which dealt with national environmental prosecutorial initiatives.

Jim also assists clients with standardized EHS management systems used in the energy, petro-chemical, heavy manufacturing, healthcare and retail sectors. He works with clients in the U.S. and abroad to build, audit and modify EHS management systems to meet their business needs, customer and market needs, and regulatory demands. From his work on management systems in the oil & gas industry, he has extensive familiarity and experience with the operational integrity management systems developed by the major oil & gas companies. His oil & gas experience covers Upstream (Offshore and Onshore), Midstream, Downstream and Marine operations.

Jim has been interviewed and quoted on EHS issues associated with oil & gas operations on Canadian Public Radio, several Oil & Gas industry publications, and in London’s Financial Times.

Published Court Decisions:

  • Martin v. Cinn. Gas and Electric, 561 F.3d 439 (6th Cir. 2009) (asbestos)

  • In re Subpoena in Collins, 524 F.2d 249 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (sovereign immunity)

  • Hudson Ins. Co. v. American Electric Corp., (11th Cir. 1992) (CERCLA, federal pre-emption of state law)

  • Leaf River Forest Prods., Inc. v. Ferguson, 662 So.2d 648 (Miss. 1995) (dioxin, fear of cancer)

Jim joined King & Spalding in 1990 and later left to assume an in-house role with a client where he served eight years as head of the EHS legal and operational departments of  a large global manufacturing and petro-chemical company. Before returning to King & Spalding in 2006, Jim was the Presidentially-appointed United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee in Nashville.

Jim began his legal career as law clerk to Hon. William H. Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and to Hon. Robert R. Merhige, Jr., U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.  He taught environmental and OSHA law at Vanderbilt Law School and, before attending law school, was a CPA and financial analyst with Price Waterhouse.


  • U.S. Attorney General’s Advisory sub-committees on Environmental Issues; Counter-terrorism; Computer Hacking & Intellectual Property Crimes

  • Master Emeritus, Harry Phillips American Inn of Court

Awards & Recognition

  • Chairman/CEO award, Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., 1994, 1995, 1999

  • Legal 500