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James S. Azadian

James S. Azadian



  • Litigation
  • Appellate

WSG Practice Industries


California, U.S.A.


James Azadian is a Member in Dykema's Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. offices and serves as the co-leader of the firm’s nationwide Appellate and Complex Motion Practice. Mr. Azadian specializes in complex federal and state court commercial litigation raising cutting-edge and core business issues, the First Amendment to the Constitution, Article I of the California Constitution, and the application of California's anti-SLAPP statute in federal court.  He also excels as a crisis management strategist with extensive experience simultaneously and successfully handling high-profile litigation and media relations for clients.

Mr. Azadian has served as counsel in more than 270 appeals and writ proceedings covering a wide range of industries and subjects throughout the country. He has been responsible for arguing cases that have had an immense impact on the law, some with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake. He frequently serves as special counsel to other law firms in preparing advocates for oral argument and in assisting with the preparation of appellate briefs as well as critical motions at the trial court level in cases where an appeal by either side seems inevitable or where the outcome of the case will impact an entire series of litigation for the client. Additionally, Mr. Azadian frequently serves on trial teams as the chief architect of the legal strategy that leads to the trial victory. In his role as embedded appellate counsel, Mr. Azadian also supports Dykema’s trial team to ensure the case is best positioned for any forthcoming appeal. For example, in 2019, he served as embedded appellate counsel in two major cases, helping guide both trial teams to jury verdicts in favor of Dykema’s clients, with both cases being recognized by the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journal as California’s Top-10 defense verdicts for that year. In 2020, again serving in his capacity as embedded appellate counsel, Mr. Azadian helped guide another trial team to a jury verdict in favor of Dykema’s clients, with the Daily Journal recognizing that case as a Top-10 defense verdict for that year as well. Additionally, he has been recognized for his prominent pro bono work, recently winning compassionate release for two aging federal prisoners serving 505-year sentences and, thirty years after their trial, uncovered serious prosecutorial misconduct in the handling of their cases. Both clients are now reunited with their families after spending over three decades in prison.

Mr. Azadian is widely published and frequently cited as a leading authority on appellate advocacy. He served as a law clerk to Ninth Circuit Judge Consuelo Maria Callahan and District Judge Ricardo Manuel Urbina of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Mr. Azadian serves as an adjunct professor, having taught courses in Appellate Advocacy at Pepperdine University School of Law, Law and Economics at UCLA, the Supreme Court Practicum at Northwestern University School of Law, and Legal Ethics at USC. He is the principal editor and contributing author of the Ninth Circuit’s Appellate Lawyers’ Practice Guide, available on the court’s website. He currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Ninth Circuit United States Court of Appeals, following his recent service as Chair of the Ninth Circuit’s Appellate Lawyer Representatives. The Appellate Lawyer Representatives is a group of approximately 20 appellate attorneys chosen by the Ninth Circuit Judges from across the country as representing the very best in the field of appellate advocacy. He also serves on the Ninth Circuit’s Law Clerk Resource Group, a subsection of the Workplace Environment Committee, created in 2017 by Chief Judge Thomas to provide additional resources to help law clerks navigate their clerkship experience. Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Sidney Runyan Thomas appointed Mr. Azadian to each of these leadership positions and, in January 2020, presented Mr. Azadian with the Ninth Circuit’s Distinguished Service and Leadership Award. Additionally, Azadian is a court-appointed mentor to civil practitioners through the Ninth Circuit’s Mentorship Program and has served two terms as a court-appointed member of the Ninth Circuit’s Advisory Committee on Rules of Practice and Internal Operating Procedures. He is also active in national and local appellate bar groups, having served as Chair of the Orange County Bar Association’s Appellate Law Section and presently serving as the co-chair of the Appellate Subcommittee for the American Bar Association’s Business Litigation Section. Mr. Azadian serves on the Board of Visitors of Pepperdine University School of Law and on the Board of Directors for the Boys and Girls Club of Laguna Beach. He has also created and leads a foundation that connects at-risk youth with members of the federal judiciary, teaching them about the role of the judiciary, and securing special invitations from Ninth Circuit judges to attend hearings, learn about and discuss the cases with advocates, and meet with appellate jurists in their private chambers. These at-risk youth often have a negative view of the court system and this engagement provides them with a valuable opportunity to gain a positive impression of the courts, rethinking their views through civic education. Many students have gone on to pursue college educations and, in some cases, law school. 

As a tireless advocate and leader in high-stakes and high-profile cases, Mr. Azadian has received numerous litigation accolades in the past three years alone. He was featured in the Los Angeles Business Journal’s 2020 Thriving In Their 40s list and named him as a 2020 Leader Of Influence:Top Litigator. The Los Angeles Daily Journal and the San Francisco Daily Journal awarded Mr. Azadian with its 2019 Top Appellate Reversals for his work in leading Dykema’s appellate team to secure the Ninth Circuit en banc court’s June 2019 reversal of a three-judge panel’s decision in a major appeal that defines the rules for settling nationwide class actions. The Daily Journal also awarded Mr. Azadian with its 2020 Top Appellate Reversals for his work in leading Dykema’s appellate team to secure the Ninth Circuit’s reversal of a trial court’s decision to remand a Class Action Fairness Act case to the state court, answering a novel question that had previously vexed trial courts throughout the Ninth Circuit, and defining the standard for proving the amount in controversy in diversity jurisdiction cases. Additionally, The Daily Journal recognized Mr. Azadian as one of the Top 40 Under 40 Attorneys in California. He was also recognized as one of Pepperdine University's inaugural 40 Under 40 Honorees. Mr. Azadian is also nationally recognized as one of The Best Lawyers in America®.

The following are five of Mr. Azadian's most recent publications: “Justices seem poised to uphold the Affordable Care Act,” November 19, 2020, Daily Journal; "Next Week: The First Monday," October 2, 2020, Daily Journal; "Looking back at the Supreme Court’s October 2019 term," July 17, 2020; "From pandemic to president’s taxes: OT19 in review," July 16, 2020; “Good Riddance 2020: New Laws for 2021,” OC Lawyer Magazine.

Bar Admissions

California, 2003

District of Columbia, 2007


Pepperdine University School of Law, J.D., 2001 University of California, Los Angeles, B.A., 1997 Judicial Clerkships Hon. Consuelo M. Callahan,
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (9th Cir.)

Hon. Ricardo M. Urbina,
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (D.D.C.)
Areas of Practice

Appellate | Appellate and Complex Motion Practice | Intellectual Property | Litigation


U.S. Supreme Court Clears the Way for Visually-Impaired to Sue Over Allegedly Inaccessible Websites and Apps
Dykema, October 2019

Yesterday, in a closely-followed case, the Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal brought by the Domino’s pizza chain, which sought to overturn the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision that entities selling online must make their websites and apps accessible to people with disabilities...

State High Court Rules Internet Publisher Can’t Be Ordered To Remove Defamatory Posts
Dykema, July 2018

The Communications Decency Act (CDA)—the law Congress enacted in 1996 and confirmed this past year to shield online publishers from responsibility for the speech of others—gives internet platforms the right to publish the ideas and opinions of third-party users without being held liable for that content or being forced to remove it.[1] In the closely watched case ofHassell v...

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