Monthly Feature: Get to Know... J.P. Wright
August 1, 2019
James (J.P.) Wright brings a resolute determination and good natured roll-up-his-sleeves willingness to both his personal life and his litigation practice. With early work experience that varied from State Fair summer jobs (first shoveling manure, and later a “promotion” to working his family’s sandwich stand) to running an inner city teen high school “people’s court” during law school, J.P. has experienced first-hand the challenges and realities that inform his law practice, his family life and his overall citizenship.
J.P showed the early promise of a budding legal mind. "As a kid, I always wanted my dad to take me golfing. Since he was a busy guy, I had to find a way to get him to commit to a round. I would draw up a contract: ‘Dad agrees to take J.P. golfing on such a date if he folds the laundry.’ After I had completed the chores as outlined in the terms of the contract, I’d take out the contract and enforce it. My dad would try to wiggle his way out, but I would tell him the contract was enforceable and he had no choice.”
Ever a sports enthusiast, J.P. found it impossible to not politely ask and discuss with his little league coaches why they were running a play in a certain way. While at Bishop Ludden Junior-Senior High School, J.P. enjoyed the competitive nature of the sports, including the finality of a win or loss. Thinking of a career in sports commentary, he enrolled in a sports broadcasting program at Ithaca’s Park School of Communications.
“Park gave me a hands-on experience and got me far enough away from home to broaden my horizons a bit. My dream was a job at ESPN right out of school, but the reality was I had to start small.” While that reality chose him to rethink his career to pursue the law, he hosted a sports talk show and did play by play and color commentating for Ithaca sports events on radio and television. “I came to realize that I should go to law school because I like to argue my case, and not only about sports.”
Graduating a semester early and deferring his Syracuse Law admission, J.P. got a taste of the business world with a corporate job at Carrier Corporation followed by an economic development position with the City of Syracuse. He found both of them to be good learning experiences, but didn’t want to delay law school too long.
At the Syracuse University College of Law, J.P. immediately found his path in litigation. “I wanted to think on my feet and plead my case in front of people, essentially become a professional at what I’d been doing in some shape or form all my life.”
He came to Bond as a second year summer associate and got a permanent offer upon graduation. He has not looked back. While in his third year of law school, J.P. was awarded a criminal justice teaching fellowship in conjunction with the Attorney General’s office and became involved with running the student court at Corcoran High School. Students who had transgressed in some way were judged by a jury of their peers. He also worked with the students on other projects, including studying the civil justice system, exploring positive relationships with the police and other ways to help them better navigate in their community. “It was a teaching experience on both sides.”
Today J.P. represents individuals, corporations, insurance companies, municipalities, universities, and school districts, as both plaintiffs and defendants, in civil litigation matters in state and federal courts.
He concentrates his practice in the areas of commercial litigation, personal injury, premises liability, and creditor’s rights, and also litigates cases arising under various employment law statutes, including the New York Labor Law and the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
Despite his propensity for a good argument, J.P. is equally committed to respect and responsiveness in his interactions with his clients, his colleagues and his adversaries. “When you come from a position of respect, you tend to receive it back. There’s always something to be gained by being open and responsive to all the players in my practice.”
Reflective of his lifelong interest in creating opportunities for Syracuse youth, J.P. serves on the Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Club of Syracuse, which operates four clubhouses in the city. As a youngster, J.P. played basketball for the club and later, coached its junior high school travel team, helping to revitalize the program in the process. “The Boys and Girls Club plays a valuable role in the lives of inner city youth and teenagers, offering them a safe haven and support during a critical time in their lives.”
“Having lived in the city for most of my life, I have a commitment and passion for the city of Syracuse and want it to succeed and thrive. I love Central New York and do what I can to help make it a better place.”