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James E. Felman has concentrated his practice of law in the defense of complex criminal matters and related civil litigation for over 30 years. Mr. Felman represents clients in federal and state matters in every phase of the criminal process — investigation, trial, sentencing, appeal, and post-conviction proceedings. He has represented clients in a wide range of matters, including allegations of bank fraud, health care fraud, mail and wire fraud, securities fraud, public corruption, environmental crimes, antitrust violations, synthetic/illegal drugs, illegal gambling, child abuse/pornography, and murder. Mr. Felman has also devoted a significant portion of his professional efforts to legal reform and policy work. He has testified on an array of topics before the United States Senate, House of Representatives, and Sentencing Commission, and has given more than 100 presentations on criminal justice policy issues. He is a Past Chair of the Criminal Justice Section of the American Bar Association. From 2014-2017 he served as a member of the Steering Committee of the Clemency Project 2014. Mr. Felman is a graduate of Wake Forest University, B.A. cum laude, 1984, and Duke University, M.A. Phil. and J.D. with high honors (Order of the Coif), 1987. Following law school, he was a law clerk to Judge Theodore McMillian of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

Awards and Honors
  • AV Rating by Martindale-Hubbell since 1996
    • 2024 “Lawyer of the Year” for Criminal Defense: General Practice
    • 2023 “Lawyer of the Year” for Criminal Defense: White-Collar
    • 2021 “Lawyer of the Year” for Tampa Criminal Defense: General Practice
    • 2018 “Lawyer of the Year” for Tampa Criminal Defense: White-Collar
    • 2015 “Lawyer of the Year” for White-Collar Criminal Defense
    • 2014 “Lawyer of the Year” for Appellate Practice: Criminal Appeals, Tampa
    • 2012 “Lawyer of the Year” for Non-White-Collar Criminal Defense, Tampa
    • 2011 “Lawyer of the Year” for White-Collar Criminal Defense, Tampa
    • Criminal Defense: White-Collar and Non-White-Collar, General Practice, 2001-present
    • Appellate Practice, 2006-present
    • Bet-the-Company Litigation, 2014-present
    • 2014-2016, 2019, 2020, 2021 “The Top 100” Lawyers in Florida
    • 2014-2016, 2018-2019, 2021, 2022, 2023 “The Top 50” Lawyers in Tampa Bay, Florida
  • Listed in FLORIDA SUPER LAWYERS, Criminal Defense: White Collar practice
  • Listed in FLORIDA TREND’S FLORIDA LEGAL ELITE, Criminal Law, 2007-2019, 2022
  • Listed in CORPORATE COUNSEL as a Top Lawyer for Criminal Defense
  • Recipient of the 2023 NACDL President’s commendation for his extraordinary contributions to the mission, beliefs, and goals of the association.
  • Recipient of the 2023 Florida Bar Criminal Law Section Selig Goldin Award for significant contribution to the criminal justice system of the State of Florida. Selig Goldin Award | Criminal Law Section of The Florida Bar (
  • Recipient of the 2022 NACDL Stalwart award for continued dedication to the NACDL and in making the criminal justice system more fair, rational, and humane.
  • Recipient of the 2018 NACDL President’s commendation for his extraordinary contributions to the mission, beliefs, and goals of the association.
  • Recipient of the 2018 Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Steven M. Goldstein Criminal Justice Award for his extraordinary contributions to improving the administration of the criminal justice system.
  • Recipient of 2017 International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law Award in recognition of his contribution to the goals of the society.
  • Recipient of 2016 American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section Charles R. English Award for his dedication to criminal justice reform.
  • Recipient of the Federal Bar Association’s 2012 Earl W. Kintner Award for years of distinguished service to the to Tampa Bay Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and his passion for federal sentencing law.
  • Recipient of 2012 James H. Kynes In The Trenches Award, which recognizes an outstanding local attorney for excellence and integrity in his or her criminal trial practice awarded by the Trial Lawyer’s Section of the Hillsborough County Bar Association.
  • Recipient of 2011 American Bar Association Grassroots Advocacy Award for his role as the ABA Criminal Justice Section Sentencing Committee co-chair where he has testified numerous times before Congress in support of the decision to reduce the 100-to-1 disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences through the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. The award is given as part of the ABA’s annual effort to connect policymakers with constituents in the legal profession.
  • Recipient of 2010 Marcelino “Bubba” Huerta Award for pro bono service and the pursuit of equal justice awarded by the Hillsborough County Bar Association Criminal Law Section
  • Recipient of 2006 George C. Carr Memorial Award for excellence in federal practice and distinguished service to the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.
Professional Experience
Professional Activities, Bar Associations and Organizations
Public Testimony
Legal Education
Undergraduate Education
Personal Data