My practice focuses on claims for civil rights violations, debt collection defense and affirmative claims against debt collectors, eviction defense and affirmative claims against landlords, and divorce. I have also represented clients in custody proceedings, personal protection proceedings, land contract forfeitures, quiet title actions, Social Security appeals, criminal cases, guardianship proceedings, and probate estate cases.
I opened my own firm to assist clients in resolving their legal needs in a compassionate, effective, and efficient manner. The legal process is complicated and often locks out those who cannot afford an attorney. I have structured my practice to increase access to the court system, whether through direct representation in difficult cases or limited-scope representation in matters that clients can handle themselves.
I earned my Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2009. In order to support myself, I opened my first business when I was nineteen years old. After graduation, I worked in retail for four years before attending law school.
I earned my Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University Law School in Detroit in 2016. During law school, I competed in the National Appellate Advocacy Competition as a member of the school’s Moot Court team. I also drafted a note on the impact of the introduction of Form 1023-EZ on charitable organizations and their client populations as well as acted as the Symposium Director for the Journal of Law in Society. Lastly, I was a competitor in both the Student Trial Advocacy Program and the Transactional Law Competition.
I received a number of awards during law school. I was awarded the Ira J. Spoon Endowed Award of 2016, which was conferred for a paper I submitted outlining ways in which supporting black-owned businesses would foster productive urban development. I was also awarded the Lincoln Brigade Veterans Scholarship, which is awarded to those with an active commitment to social justice. Lastly, I was awarded the the National Lawyers Guild’s Outstanding Law Student Award in 2016.
During law school, I worked for a civil rights firm where I supported the partners in a major personal injury case against a defense contractor, as well as in constitutional claims, Americans with Disabilities Act claims, and habeas corpus petitions. After law school, I worked for an attorney that represented employees in discrimination, whistleblower, and harassment claims.
Prior to opening my private practice, I worked for a legal aid organization. While there, I specialized in prosecuting affirmative claims against landlords, defending against land contract forfeitures, defending against debt collection lawsuits, and assisting people with utility shut-offs. In addition, I handled a significant number of divorce, custody, and personal protection cases as well as eviction defense cases. The fast-paced environment of legal aid provided me with the tools to run an efficient and effective practice without sacrificing my compassion for people going through some of the most stressful times in their lives.
I believe it is important to remain an active member of our community. I am a board member of the Detroit & Michigan Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. I have also coached a Wayne Law Moot Court team each year since my graduation.
I look forward to learning more about you as we work together to resolve your legal issue.
IN THE NEWS
February 1, 2020 McKinney found not guilty of armed robbery by jury
March 12, 2019 Group wants renters to have lawyers in eviction cases
May 23, 3016 Sean Riddell wins social justice scholarship
May 16, 2016 Wayne Law student wins social justice scholarship
James Martines was born and currently resides in the city of Detroit. As a minority raised in a working-class family, he has had firsthand experiences with issues of racial and economic justice. It is those experiences that led James to pursue a career in law.
In 2018, James earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in African-American Studies from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. He graduated with high distinction and was invited to present at the Meeting of the Minds research conference where he led a panel discussion on the formation of the Constitution. During this time James also worked as a bartender and as a mechanic fixing pneumatic and hydraulic machinery.
Prior to attending law school, James volunteered for a term with the AmeriCorps Urban Safety Program in Detroit, where he worked to improve the health and well-being of communities. While with AmeriCorps, James connected with residents, businesses, and local leaders in efforts to reduce crime and meet the needs of different neighborhoods in Detroit. After his term with AmeriCorps, he worked at the Wayne State Center for Urban Studies as a research technician. In this position, James conducted surveys with parents of children with special needs, analyzing the data and proposing strategies to improve the children’s educational experience.
In 2019, James was awarded the Damon J. Keith Scholarship to attend Wayne State University Law School. He is currently pursuing his legal education there and sits on the board of the law school’s student chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. In addition to attending law school, James is employed by The Riddell Law Firm PLLC as a legal clerk. In that position, James assists clients with gathering their information and documents for their cases, drafts discovery requests and responses, investigates factual issues, researches and writes on legal issues, and assists in hearing and trial preparation. He is firmly committed to improving access to justice for clients and using his skills and knowledge to improve the greater community.