James W. Kilbourne, Jr.
(828) 254-4778
(828) 412-4024
Twitter @jkilbourne
Bar Admissions
  • North Carolina, 1997
  • Eastern Cherokee, 2001
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit, 1999
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, 2012
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of North Carolina, 1999
  • U.S. District Court Middle District of North Carolina, 1999
  • U.S. District Court Western District of North Carolina, 2006
  • University of North Carolina School of Law, J.D., 1997
  • Wofford College, Spartanburg, SC, BA in Government and History,cum laude, 1993

James W. Kilbourne, Jr.

James is recognized locally and statewide for his leadership in the legal profession.  James was President of the Buncombe Bar in 2018-19 and President of the Western District Federal Bar in 2016-2017.  He served as the chair of the North Carolina Bar Association Convention Planning Advisory Committee for the 2018 (Wilmington) and 2019 (Asheville) Conventions.  He was recently elected as Chair of the NCBA Appellate Practice Section.  James has served on the Appellate Rules Committee for 8 terms.

James is a litigation attorney with twenty-five years of experience, in all aspects of civil litigation, including depositions, hearings, mediations, arbitrations, jury trials, and appeals.  He primarily handles the firm’s complex litigation, copyright/ trademark litigation, and appeals.  He has significant trial experience in State, Federal and Tribal court and is an excellent strategist and negotiator.  James is also a certified mediator.

James worked with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians for 7 years earlier in his career and has likely tried more cases in the Cherokee Court than any other attorney.  On issues of tribal jurisdiction, he has spoken nationally for the Federal Bar, American Bar Association, National Criminal Justice Association, Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys, and Department of Justice: Office of Victims of Crime.  On those issues, his work has been highlighted in the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Indian Country Today, and Congressional Record.



AV® Preeminent Rated since 2014
Legal Elite, Business North Carolina, Appellate, 2022
Super Lawyers, Construction Litigation, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022


Professional Associations and Memberships:

  • North Carolina State Bar


  • Buncombe (28th Judicial District) Bar
    • President 2018-2019,
    • President Elect 2017-2018,
    • Vice President 2016-2017,
    • Executive Committee 2013-2020,
    • Chair, Communications, Committee 2015-2016


  • North Carolina Appellate Rules Committee 2015-present,
    • Chair, En Banc subcommittee, 2017-present,
    • Co-chair, MAPS subcommittee, 2016-2017


  • North Carolina Bar Association,
    • Nominations Committee, 2017-2019,
    • Appellate Practice Section Council 2014-present;
      • Chair, 2022-2023;
      • Vice-Chair, 2021-2022;
      • Treasurer, 2020-2021;
      • Secretary 2019- 2020;
      • Chair, Legislative/Ethics Committee 2014-2020,
    • Convention Planning Advisory Committee 2013-2019,
      • Committee Chair, 2017-2019
    • Technology Advisory Committee, 2005-2011, 2013-2014


  • Federal Bar Association, Western District NC Chapter
    • President 2016-2017;
    • Vice President, 2014-2016;
    • Secretary 2013-2014;
    • Leadership Council 2012-2013,
    • Indian Law Section 2002-present
  • American Bar Association
  • Cherokee Bar Association (Charter Member)
  • Supreme Court Project, Native American Rights Fund
  • Chairman, Lake Logan Architectural Review Committee, 2013-present
  • Clerk to the Vestry, St. Mary’s Church [Episcopal], Asheville, North Carolina 2005-2007
  • Delegate, Annual Convention, 2007, Diocese of Western North Carolina, Episcopal Church
  • Member, Board of Directors, Lyric Opera of Asheville 2008-2011
  • Charter Member, Wellness Coalition, Cherokee, North Carolina
  • Executive Committee, Wofford Alumni Admissions Council
  • Match Secretary, Asheville Empire Lacrosse Club, 2013-2015


Quotes and Citations in National Publications:

  • Reason, "The Volokh Conspiracy: Is Ownership of Guns Itself Evidence of Drug Dealing?," Column by Eugue Volokh, March 17, 2022 (online version)
  • Arizona Journal of Environmental Law and Policy, "The Shifting Landscape of Ancestral Lands: Tribal Gathering of Traditional Plants in National Parks," Article by Andrew Schrack, Fall 2018, Page 1.
  • University of Florida Journal of Law and Public Policy, "Allotment of Justice: How U.S. Policy in Indian Country Perpetuates the Victimization of American Indians," Note by Elise Helgesen, December 2011, Page 443.
  • University of Illinois Law Review, "Unguarded Indians: The Complete Failure of the Post-Oliphant Guardian and the Dual-Edged Nature of Parens Patriae," Article by Gavin Clarkson and David DeKorte, 2010, Page 1120-21.
  • Wall Street Journal, “On U.S. Indian Reservations, Criminals Slip Through the Cracks,” Article by Gary Fields, June 16, 2007, Page A1
  • ABA Journal Now, “Laws Create Tribal Justice Gap,” Article by Debra Cassen Weiss, June 18, 2007 (online version)
  • Congressional Record, “H.R. 3093: Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008: Proceedings of the United States House of Representatives,” Remarks of Representative Jay Enslee [Washington], July 26, 2007, Page H8640
  • Los Angeles Times, “Reservations Beyond the Law,” Editorial by Gavin Clarkson, August 3, 2007, Page A14
  • Indian Country Today, “Justice Declined,” Editorial by Gavin Clarkson, August 24, 2007, Page B10
  • Congressional Record, “H.R. 3093: Departments of Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008: Proceedings of the United States Senate,” Remarks of Senator John Thune [South Dakota], October 15, 2007, Section 20, Page S12854
  • Wofford College, “Terrier Celebrity: James Kilbourne, ’93,” Article by Lisa Ware for Wofford Alumni Association, October 2007 (online version)
  • Denver Post, “Justice: Inaction’s Fatal Price,” Article in the Series “Lawless Lands” by Michael Riley, November 12, 2007, Page A1
  • University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, "Tribal Jurisdiction and Domestic Violence: The Need for Non-Indian Accountability on the Reservation," Note by Amy Radon, Summer 2004, Page 1275.

Seminar Presentations: LINK

Reported Cases: LINK


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* Please see the following websites for an explanation of the membership standards for the following recognitions: www.bestlawyers.com; www.businessnc.com/special-sections/legal-elite/; and www.superlawyers.com/north-carolina.


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