James Niekamp believes the best way to learn is to seek out teachers you admire, people you want to be like.
“I like learning from people who aren’t afraid to take risks and who understand the greatest lessons come from failing. That kind of mindset inspires me – I see it in my clients and in my Graydon colleagues. Every opportunity involves risk. Not much happens if somebody doesn’t risk failing.”
James grew up in the Dayton suburb of Centerville, the son of a lawyer who worked for various branches of the government and a stay-at-home mom. James is the youngest of five brothers. As you might guess, he did a good deal of tagging along. His nearest brother, three years James’ elder, likened him to a ferret, meaning he had an ability to get into places where his attendance or participation weren’t necessarily invited.
“I always looked up to my brothers, so, yeah, I was always tagging along. And they tolerated me for the most part. I think it helped me develop some lawyerly skills, like figuring out ways to get people not to say no, learning not to be afraid to fail, which means not being afraid to try. I became resilient.”
He was an introverted boy with far-flung interests. He played bass in a string of alt-rock bands; in high school, he and some friends started a boxing club; at 17, he organized a community group with the goal of cracking down on speeders on the street that ran past his home; today, he’s a Judge Advocate in the U.S. Army Reserve.
For three years prior to joining the Firm, he and his father ran a two-man law office in Miamisburg. They provided counsel to distilleries, wineries and breweries. James handled the marketing, managed the office and built the website for Niekamp & Associates. He learned practical aspects of the law – how to apply for permits, compliance, labeling requirement. He is self-effacing and a good listener.
Something he said seems to sum him up nicely. “So much in life, you can’t control. You can’t pick your family. You can’t choose the circumstances you’re born into. But you can control your attitude and how you deal with what’s put in front of you.”
James and his wife, Melissa, have two daughters, Veda and Quinn, who are 21 months apart. He’d like more children. For fun, he likes spending time with his family. In the evenings, when he has a bit of down time, he’s into researching the alcohol industry – a carryover from the law practice with his dad. James says he sometimes feels guilty over how much he loves his work. He believes that being angry does no good.
He brings a Dale Carnegie mindset to Graydon: “When you see people as human beings, when you really learn to appreciate them, you can’t help but like them. I think I’ll be a good fit here. I’m not a big ego guy, and I genuinely do like everyone here.
James helps craft distilleries, breweries, & wineries as they navigate the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) permit process. Prior to law school, James interned for two summers with the TTB where he gained experience processing permit applications and fielding questions about the federal permit application process. His clients range from small start-ups to publicly traded Fortune 1000 companies.
Prior to joining Graydon, James worked on commercial litigation matters in the legal department of a large corporation, and most recently, on TTB issues for a boutique law firm in Miamisburg, Ohio. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College of Law and received his Bachelor's degree from The Ohio State University. During law school, James interned for a civil litigation firm and for a federal district court judge.
Outside of his private practice, James serves as an Officer in the U. S. Army Reserve’s Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps.