James practises in all areas of commercial law, in particular shipping and international arbitration, jurisdictional disputes, the sale and carriage of goods, and insurance. He is ranked as a leading junior by both Chambers & Partners and Legal 500:

- His written advocacy and oral advocacy are excellent. (Chambers & Partners UK Bar 2017)
- He is very approachable and a great person to have as part of the team. He really puts in a lot of work for the client and the case. (Chambers & Partners UK Bar 2017)
- Outstanding (Legal 500 2016)
- He is very client-friendly; he goes out of his way…He has a great head on his shoulders and gives very considered advice (Chambers & Partners 2016)
- Able to cope with very large and complex cases (Legal 500 2015)
- He is extremely approachable and expends every effort for his client (and his instructing solicitors) (Legal 500 2014)
- …the ‘highly regarded’ James Shirley is ‘a very able lawyer’ (Legal 500 2013)
- …the ‘gifted’ James Shirley (Legal 500 2012)

James has first class law degrees from UCL (where is now a visiting tutor in contract law) and from New College, Oxford.

James is an experienced trial advocate and the bulk of his practice consists of practice as sole counsel. He has appeared in trials in Hong Kong and Singapore and is registered as an advocate in Dubai under Part II of the DIFC Courts’ Register of Legal Practitioners.

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