Prior to teaching and her career with Elon, Rivers James began practicing as a legislative attorney in the Washington, D.C. office of Akin Gump Strauss, Hauer & Feld, LLP. She entered public service to serve as Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor to the Majority Leader of the United States Congress, and later served as Executive Director of the South Carolina Bar Foundation. In that post, Rivers James authored the South Carolina Supreme Court rule that converted the state’s Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program into a comprehensive program that exponentially increased revenues that the Bar Foundation invests in law-related programs.
Rivers James received a bachelor’s degree in government and sociology from Dartmouth College (1987) and a Juris Doctorate from the Harvard Law School (1990).
In teaching, prior to Elon, Rivers James taught at Vermont Law School, where she was a member of the Environmental faculty and fellow of the Land Use Institute. She began her law teaching career as a Visiting Assistant Professor at University of South Carolina School of Law in 2005 and taught in the master’s in public administration program from 1999 to 2002.
Faith Rivers James teaches Legislation, Nonprofit Organizations, Property, and Public Law & Leadership, a course she created at Elon Law.
She is a member of the South Carolina Bar, the District of Columbia Bar, and the North Carolina Bar Association, where she serves on the Citizen Lawyer Committee and the Real Property Section’s Legislative Committee.
A native of Charleston, South Carolina, Rivers James has done extensive research on preservation of African American property ownership. She was instrumental in the creation of the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation in Charleston, for which the South Carolina Bar Foundation received the National Conference of Bar Foundations Award for Excellence in Programming in 2004. Rivers James served on the American Bar Association’s Property Preservation Task Force from 2006-2007. Most recently, she co-authored a chapter about the saga of heirs’ property in the Carolina Lowcountry in Breakthrough Communities: Sustainability and Justice in the Next American Metropolis, from MIT Press.