James K. Leader - Partner

New York
Tel: 212-486-2400
Fax: 212-486-3099
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Jim Leader has nearly forty years of litigation experience across a broad spectrum of disciplines, including antitrust, securities and complex commercial litigation, as well as significant product liability and toxic tort defense work. He has tried cases in federal and state courts in New York, Dallas and Chicago. As a hands-on problem solver, Jim works closely with the Firm’s clients to develop a structured, pragmatic approach to risk management and litigation, when appropriate. Each client’s cause becomes a crusade during which Jim is readily available and actively involved in achieving the client’s goal and protecting its brand and reputation.

Product Liability / Toxic Tort
Jim represents some of the country’s leading chemical manufacturers and was lead counsel for one in the IBM Semiconductor Litigation involving over 200 cancers and 50 major birth defects in New York, California and Minnesota courts. He presently heads a team working closely with science and medicine experts in several venues on behalf of a major manufacturer.

His career includes the defense of such noteworthy cases as Agent Orange and Firestone Steel-Belted Radial 500s. Jim was also part of a team of lawyers who acted as outside general counsel for British Leyland Motors and Jaguar Cars, handling dealer, commercial, recall and product matters.

Complex Commercial Litigation
Jim Leader’s commercial litigation practice includes securities, commodities, broker-dealer issues, derivative and class actions, intellectual property, dealer relations and a variety of contract matters. By way of example, Jim defended a client involved in multiple litigations over the divestiture of key subsidiaries, one of which concerned allegations of non-compliance with federal and state environmental regulations; another, the client’s relations with customers and business partners. 

Recently, for an international chemical company, Jim commenced an action in the federal court in New York and recovered the full amount of a multi-million dollar escrow fund created for post-purchase adjustments after a major acquisition. The leading software provider to the advertising industry called on Jim and the Firm to seek redress from a licensee accused of trade secret theft. After defeating the licensee’s attempt to obtain a TRO and prevent the year-end termination of its contract, Jim negotiated a favorable result. A major financial institution and private equity firms have asked Jim Leader to represent their interests in resolving a variety of disputes.

Trusted Counselor
Based on the results achieved and years of experience in court, arbitration and mediation, Jim Leader is often called upon by law firms around the country to counsel their best clients and assist with New York disputes and litigation.


  • Columbia University, J.D. (1971)
  • Yale University, BA (1968)


  • New York
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court Western District of New York
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court

Professional Activities/Awards

  • New York Super Lawyers (2007-2016)
  • DuPont Legal Leaders’ Circle Award, given annually to the attorney who achieves excellence for DuPont (2004)
  • New York City Bar Association
  • New York State Bar Association
  • American Bar Association
  • Defense Research Institute
  • National Center for State Courts
  • Lawyers For Civil Justice
  • International Association of Defense Counsel
  • Product Liability Advisory Council
  • Rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell


  • Plaintiffs Use Product Stewardship As A Sword, International Association of Defense Counsel, Toxic & Hazardous Substances Newsletter (March 2008)
  • Judicial Independence; More & Better Paid Judges, The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, co-author with Taysen Van Italie, Esq., Johnson & Johnson (February 2008)
  • Global Compliance Readiness, The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel (September 2007)
  • For NYC Litigation, Corporations Around The World Choose A DuPont Primary Law Firm, The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel (September 2007)
  • The Threat of Aggregate Litigation, International Association of Defense Counsel, James K. Leader and Mary D. Faucher, presentation, Bermuda (July 2007)
  • Virtual Law Firm: Technology Drives Best Practices & Cost-Effective Results, The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel (March 1997)