James F. Jorden

Senior Counsel


James Jorden is well-known for his record of successful defense of class action litigation in trial and appellate courts for many of the country’s largest life insurers and other financial institutions. He has demonstrated particular success in defending matters involving the contract terms, marketing and sales of life insurance and annuity products. Jim has an equally significant record for successfully defending insurers, banks and pension plans in ERISA class and individual litigation. Over the past 25 years, Jim has argued as lead counsel in class actions and related litigation in eight of the federal circuits, the United States Supreme Court, and numerous state trial and appellate courts. During that period, he has been lead trial counsel in more than 50 individual cases in federal and state trial courts throughout the United States. In one such case, after a three-week trial, he obtained a successful defense verdict in the largest life insurance product class action ever tried to a jury. Jim is the co-leader of the firm’s insurance industry group.

Financial Services Industry Litigation

Retained as senior counsel by national insurance companies, mutual funds and banks, Jim represents industry groups in general complex commercial litigation matters. In addition to his trial and appellate practice, he represents clients before the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service and state regulatory agencies. Jim lectures widely on corporate, securities and employee benefits litigation and is the author of numerous publications on class actions and trial practice.


Jim has substantial experience representing life insurers and reinsurers as lead counsel in reinsurance disputes, including representation in contested arbitrations on behalf of both cedents and reinsurers. He is an ARIAS-certified arbitrator. Jim also represents his insurance company clients in state and federal regulatory hearings and multistate market conduct examinations.

Representative Experience

  • Served as lead defense counsel in a nationwide class action involving allegations of misrepresentation in the marketing of annuity products. The case expanded to cover other sales policies and practices becoming one of the largest class actions against a life insurer. Jim obtained a defense verdict after a three-week jury trial.
  • Lead defense counsel in six of the most significant federal court of appeals and state supreme court victories involving class actions in the life insurance industry.
  • In a suit alleging policy rate discrimination against more than 1.4 million putative class members, Jim defeated class certification in both the district court and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Served as lead defense counsel in more than a dozen multidistrict litigation proceedings involving the sale of annuities.
  • As lead counsel for an insurer during a six-week jury trial involving a complex joint venture contract, Jim obtained a defense verdict and a counterclaim award for his client in excess of $70 million.
  • Recently represented a group of independent marketing organizations in a lawsuit challenging the Department of Labor’s “fiduciary” definition and standards under ERISA.

Personal Interests

Jim is an avid runner and regularly participates in half-marathons (at a “reasonable” pace) and the “Bay to Breakers” in San Francisco. Jim served in the U.S. Army, First Aviation Brigade, Vietnam.


Bar Admissions

District of Columbia

Court Admissions

U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Tax Court
U.S. Claims Court
U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida


George Washington University
LL.B. George Washington Review - Editor

Dickinson College

Insights & Events

Other Perspectives
  • Co­-author of the “Trial Preparation and Presentations” chapter of the Thompson Reuters seven-volume treatise on Successful Partnering Between Inside and Outside Counsel (2012)
  • Co-author of the Handbook on ERISA Litigation published by Wolters Kluwer Law & Business/Aspen Publishers (1992) (4th ed. 2015)

Leadership & Community

Pro Bono

Jim counsels and provides assistance to the national Veterans Legal Aid Society and the veterans whom it serves.

Professional Associations

  • American Law Institute (ALI) founder and co-chair for 20 years of the highly successful annual ALI CLE Conference on Securities, Tax and ERISA Issues Affecting Insurance Companies, and the founder and co-chair of the annual ALI CLE Conference on Life and Health Insurance Litigation; ALI CLE Commercial Law, Advisory Panel, Bankruptcy and Insurance Law (Current)
  • Association of Life Insurance Counsel (ALIC), Board of Governors, Securities Section, chair, 2012-15
  • District of Columbia Bar Association, Division of Corporation, Finance and Securities Law, past chair, 1982-86
  • American Bar Association, Insurance Section Committee on Employee Benefits, member and past chair; Corporation, Banking, and Business Law Section’s Subcommittee on Securities Activities of Insurance Companies, member and past chair; ERISA Litigation Subcommittee, member and past chair; Litigation and Taxation Sections, member
  • American Law Institute, member
  • Fellow of the American Bar Foundation
  • Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America
  • National Learning Center, Washington, D.C., past chair

Firm Leadership

  • Co-Leader, Insurance Industry Group
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