James A. Heilpern

James Heilpern specializes in complex litigation and corpus linguistics, representing clients at all stages of litigation, from discovery at the trial court level through merits briefing at the Supreme Court. These include:

  • Representing a private, religious university in pre-litigation matters seeking redress for First Amendment retaliation by state actors in response to the university's religious teachings and political statements made by the university's president; resulted in favorable settlement
  • Representing political¬†advocacy organization in ongoing Freedom of Information Act litigation to determine whether the government engaged in FISA abuse, including politically motivated unmasking and illegal surveillance of First Amendment protected activities
  • Representing the Archdiocese of San Juan before the Corte Suprema de Puerto Rico, the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, and U.S. Supreme Court in litigation regarding the juridical nature of the Catholic Church in Puerto Rico
  • Defending state government in high-profile constitutional cases

James is also a leading figure in the law and corpus linguistics movement, having authored some of the first legal briefs in the country to employ corpus linguistics.  As Senior Fellow at BYU Law School, he has helped shape the legal theory undergirding this new discipline, authoring numerous influential law review articles in top journals. A sought-after speaker for judicial education and CLE courses, James has personally trained judges and clerks on three U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal, one U.S. district court, and seven state supreme courts, as well as dozens of practicing attorneys around the country.

James clerked for the Honorable Robert H. Cleland on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan and the Honorable Edith Clement on the Fifth Circuit. He graduated magna cum laude from BYU Law School.


  • Brigham Young University (J.D.)
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (B.A.)


  • U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan


  • Virginia

*Not yet admitted to the D.C. Bar. Admitted to the Virginia State Bar and practicing under the supervision of D.C. Bar members pursuant to Rule 49(c)(8).

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