JAMES E. BRISTOL III grew up in Colorado.  After graduating from high school in Durango, he went into the U.S. Navy for six years and traveled the world.  He worked a number of years as a crisis counselor in the Emergency Room at St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe, and then attended law school.

James is a NM Board Certified Family Law Specialist and Fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers , who practices exclusively in the area of Family Law.  James maintains an AV Preeminent rating with Martindale-Hubble, the highest ranking available from this peer-reviewed attorney evaluation system.

As a lawyer experienced in Family Law litigation, James knows that managing emotions is extremely important. Therefore, he maintains a clinical licensure as a Licensed Independent Social Worker (L.I.S.W.).  This licensure also supports his role as a Guardian ad Litem representing the interests of children. James co-authored an amicus brief that resulted in the New Mexico Supreme Court reversing a Court of Appeals decision and extending Guardians ad Litem quasi-judicial immunity.

James is active in several Collaborative Divorce associations, such as the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals , the Santa Fe Collaborative Practice Group, and the Northern New Mexico Collaborative Alliance.  He is a former member of the Board of the New Mexico Collaborative Practice Group .

James is on the Board and Secretary of the Family Law Section of the New Mexico State Bar. He plans and promotes Family Law trainings and continuing legal education trainings, including the yearly Family Law Symposium. The Supreme Court of New Mexico appointed James to the Domestic Relations Rules Committee.  James is a member of the American Bar Association and the Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association.

Prior to starting his own firm, James was an associate at Sutin, Thayer & Browne, A.P.C ., and served as a law clerk to Judge Carol Vigil of the First Judicial District Court in Santa Fe and as an extern law clerk for the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.



  • Martindale-Hubbell Rating: AV Preeminent
  • New Mexico Board Certified Family Law Specialist
  • Southwest Super Lawyers, Rising Star 2014, 2015, and 2016 for Family Law

Professional and Community Involvement


  • Free Expression in Motion Pictures, 25 Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal (2007).
  • The Economy, Divorce, and Domestic Violence, New Mexico Lawyer , Vol 7, No. 3, November 2012.