James B. Bristol

From startup ventures to publicly traded companies, James Bristol advises clients on all types of compensation and benefits. Well-versed in federal and state tax rules, ERISA, SEC disclosures, and the myriad regulations that surround benefits and compensation packages, James embraces the challenge of finding solutions that meet the client's goals. Clients who rely on the firm for a variety of corporate and litigation matters appreciate that James adds another layer of service. His experience includes:

  • Traditional benefit plans and equity compensation
  • Compensation packages for incoming executives and directors
  • Deferred compensation agreements, including 409A, SERPs, rabbi trusts and funding
  • Transitioning compensation programs following mergers or acquisitions
  • Severance packages for departing executives and directors
  • Advises business owners and trustees in ESOP transactions

A creative, convergent thinker, James recognizes that executive benefits issues are complex, not only because of regulatory requirements, but also because of the public relations aspect related to shareholder scrutiny. Clients can appreciate that James collaborates with their internal advisors to craft well-rounded solutions.

Best Lawyers in America© (Levine Leichtman Capital Partners) has recognized James in the following categories since 2009: Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law, Employment Law - Management, Litigation - ERISA and Tax Law. Furthermore, James was named Nashville's "Lawyer of the Year" by Best Lawyers in America© in Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law in 2013 and 2017.


  • Member, Tennessee, Texas, Georgia, Washington and American Bar Associations
  • Member, Health Law Section and Tax Section of the American Bar Association
  • Member, Employee Benefits Committee of ABA Tax Section; active in various subcommittees and meet annually with members and officials from national office of Treasury Dept. and Internal Revenue Service, Employee Plans Division
  • Member, ESOP Association, Washington, D.C., NewSouth Chapter Advisory Board


  • J.D., cum laude, Pepperdine University, 1987
    • Note and Comment Editor - Pepperdine Law Review
  • B.A., cum laude, Columbia Christian College, 1980

Legal Services

Industries Served

Bar Admissions

  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Georgia
  • Washington

Up Close

An avid reader, James has enjoyed reading "the classics" from an adult perspective. His favorite novel is Les Miserables, which he describes as a book that will change how you view and judge others. In addition to reading, James enjoys cooking for his children and his dinner club. Grilled salmon and seared steak are two of James' specialties.