James Bristol has more than 30 years of experience representing businesses, governmental entities and nonprofit organizations in all areas of executive compensation and benefits, including Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) and Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).

His vast experience includes advising healthcare companies, financial institutions and other entities on matters ranging from employment and separation agreements to complex ERISA litigation. Clients value his experienced and practical approach to resolving conflicts and complex issues.

From startup ventures to publicly traded companies, Mr. Bristol advises clients on all types of compensation and benefits.

Well-versed in federal and state tax rules, ERISA, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosures and the myriad regulations that surround benefits and compensation packages, Mr. Bristol 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 he 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, Mr. Bristol 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. He has also served on several occasions as an expert witness on ERISA matters.

Mr. Bristol's representative matters include:

  • Represented EmVenio Research Inc., the largest provider of community-based clinical trial sites served with mobile research units, in its sale to PCM Trials, the largest independent mobile research nurse visit provider for decentralized clinical trials


  • Pepperdine University School of Law, J.D., cum laude
  • Columbia Christian College, B.A., cum laude
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Tennessee Bar Association
  • Texas Bar Association
  • Georgia Bar Association
  • Washington Bar Association
  • American Bar Association, Health Law Section; Tax Section, Employee Benefits Committee
  • 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
  • ESOP Association, Washington, D.C., NewSouth Chapter Advisory Board
  • Knowledge Academies, Chairman, Board of Directors
  • American Lung Association of Tennessee, Former Member, Board of Directors
  • Nashville Bar Association, Pro Bono Volunteer
  • Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Davidson County, Former Member, Board of Directors
  • Robertson Association of the United Way
  • Friends of Woodmont Park, Director and Treasurer
  • PinkSocks Life, Director
Honors & Awards
  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law, 2009-2024; Employment Law - Management, 2011-2024; Litigation - ERISA, 2011-2021, 2023-2024; Tax Law, 2012-2021, 2024
  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Nashville Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law Lawyer of the Year, 2022, 2024


Speaking Engagements