Jim is a nationally recognized trial lawyer focusing on high-profile criminal, civil and regulatory matters. Through his use of creative and aggressive legal strategies, Jim has broken new ground in a wide range of successful and significant cases of national and global importance, ranging from the dismantling of New York’s infamous “five families” of organized crime to a class action school bullying lawsuit that set a precedent for sweeping national reform. He is an accomplished litigator who has prevailed in a broad range of criminal, civil and administrative matters, representing both private defendants and plaintiffs as well as government agencies.
Jim began his career at the Department of Justice (DOJ) in the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York (EDNY). As a federal prosecutor, he helped break up a human trafficking ring before moving to the organized crime unit where he worked in close collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York Police Department (NYPD) and other agencies to indict and convict hundreds of mob members including the bosses, captains and soldiers of the Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Lucchese crime families. He ascended to lead the DOJ’s first Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property unit.
Following his public service, Jim led the white collar practices at two major international law firms, spearheading successful legal strategies for internal corporate investigations in contexts including antitrust, foreign bribery, banking, securities and accounting fraud, procurement and billing fraud, embezzlement, and market manipulation.
He accomplished these victories while championing good government work to bring a substantial and welcome change to people’s lives. His success was the catalyst for his decision to found WMH, with two other distinguished prosecutors. The firm has flourished, growing in numbers from six to over 50 professionals in four years.
Jim’s work has garnered many accolades, including the DOJ Director’s Award for Superior Performance and the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation’s Prosecutor of the Year award. Chambers USA calls him “a tireless, dogged advocate for his clients,” and the Financial Times ranked him as one of the “Top 10 Innovative Lawyers in North America. ” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio stated, “If there is magic in the law, Jim Walden has found it.”
His work is depicted on screen in the Oscar®-winning documentary film “Icarus,” Aaron Sorkin’s “Molly’s Game,” the National Geographic documentary series “Inside the American Mob” and the Vanity Fair documentary “The Disco Inferno.”
Jim served as a law clerk for the Honorable Anthony J. Scirica, U.S. Judge, Court of Appeals, Third Circuit. He is a cum laude graduate of Hamilton College and a magna cum laude graduate of Temple University School of Law, where he served as a law review editor.Show More +
Jim has represented a diverse array of high-profile corporate executives in complex matters intersecting with federal and international investigations and public policy. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, he led the defense of the former CEO of AIG Financial Products Division, Joseph Cassano, proving to the DOJ and the Securities and Exchange Commission that the CEO was factually innocent, leading both agencies to drop their investigations. Additional career highlights include:
In a pioneering class action school bullying suit against the New York City Department of Education, Jim fought relentlessly to correct the systematic failure of the agency to fulfill its obligations to protect students. The settlement established landmark anti-bullying protocols in the largest school system in the U.S. and set a legal precedent for national reform.
Appointed Special Counsel in January 2019 by New Jersey Governor Philip Murphy, pursuant to Executive Order No. 52, to conduct an in-depth examination of the state’s corporate tax incentives as well as investigate possible political and special interest corruption in the legislative design and implementation of the $11 billion tax incentive programs.
Represents Russian whistleblower Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, testified before the U.S. Congress and conceived groundbreaking bipartisan legislation, the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, to criminalize doping fraud in international sports while providing an instrumental gateway for the DOJ to investigate and prosecute related corrupt practices. The case was featured in the Oscar®-winning documentary film “Icarus.”
Brought a lawsuit against the New York City Housing Authority on behalf of its tenants, who demanded the agency uphold its federal mandate to provide safe, secure and dignified housing after years of neglect, resulting in a court-ordered injunction forcing decades-overdue lead inspections and removal in thousands of apartments with young children.
Successfully represented high-stakes poker game organizer Molly Bloom in a case made famous by Aaron Sorkin’s film “Molly’s Game.”
Innovation Award, New York Law Journal (2020)
Ranked in “Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations — New York,” Chambers and Partners USA (2018-2020)
Top 10 Legal Innovator, Financial Times (2019)
Local Litigation Star, General Commercial Litigation, Competition/Antitrust, Dispute Resolution, and White Collar Crime, Benchmark Litigation (2018-2020)
500 Leading Lawyers in America, Lawdragon (2018-2020)
Best Lawyer, Criminal Defense: White-Collar, U.S. News-Best Lawyers in America (2011-2021)
Law Power 50, City & State (2019, 2020)
Law Power 50, NJBIZ (2020)
Insider 100: Policymaker, Insider NJ (2019)
Distinguished Leader, New York Law Journal (2017)