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James Sears Bryant

Of Counsel

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James Sears Bryant is an Of Counsel in the firm’s Business Transactions practice group.

Bryant focuses his practice primarily on corporate and business transactions including complex commercial matters for a range of entities from professional athletes, sports teams and businesses to nonprofit organizations and universities.

Bryant’s practice is uniquely informed by his previous tenures as an Oklahoma State Representative and Oklahoma District Judge. His prior professional experience also includes positions with numerous educational institutions including the Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College where he served as the Assistant to the Dean for External Relations; the University of Iowa Board of Regents and the Oklahoma State Board of Regents for which he served as Special Counsel; and Union Theological Seminary where he held numerous roles including General Counsel, Treasurer, Acting, Interim, and Vice President for Business and Legal Affairs and Chief Executive Officer.

Bryant’s noteworthy experience includes leading litigation against the NCAA on behalf of an NAIA school in Texas, successfully securing the right for the school to become the first educational institution in history to join the NCAA Division I ranks without waiting the standard probationary period. In addition, he has successfully represented universities and student-athletes in NCAA investigations, including the first case in history in which immunity for athlete eligibility was given in exchange for cooperation with the NCAA. Bryant was also able to obtain lessened sanctions against the Big 12 University’s athletic program in the case.

Furthermore, Bryant was instrumental in the implementation of improved procedures and practices for handling claims of sexual assault at Big 10 and Big 12 universities. At the professional level, he has represented athletes in contract discussions and previously handled negotiations for the purchase of an NBA team in an upper Midwest market. He was also involved in litigation against the NBA during two of its lockouts.

Outside of the office, Bryant dedicates much of his time to authoring books on a variety of topics related to his practice including how to protect nonprofits from litigation, representing athletes in NCAA investigations and issues in today’s higher education institutions.

Bryant earned his law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law and his bachelor’s degree from Phillips University. He also holds a doctorate degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania and two master’s degrees from Dartmouth College and Brandeis University.


  • Book co-author, “Bridging the Gaps – A Field Guide to Networks, ” (Lucas Park Books, St. Louis, Missouri, 2008)
  • Book author, “Liberal Arts Colleges in Crises. The Transformation of the Eureka College Board,” (Southwestern University Press, Winfield, Kansas, 2012)
  • Co-author, “Laws, Not Lawyers: How states can protect nonprofit leaders from litigation,” (Stanford Social Innovation Review, June 2, 2007)
  • Co-author, “Protecting Nonprofit Directors and Scarce Resources,” (Journal of Payment Systems Law, July/August 2007)
  • Co-author, “Representing the Oklahoma Athlete in NCAA Investigations,” (62 Oklahoma Bar Journal 3815, 1991)
  • Author, “Retroactive Taxation: A Constitutional Analysis of the Minimum Tax on Intangible Drilling Costs,” (36 Oklahoma Law Review 107, 1983)

Contact James Sears Bryant at 202.413.1855 or jbryant@spencerfane.com.