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James Skelton has practiced law for more than 42 years, specializing in international and domestic oil and gas transactions. He focused primarily on upstream international petroleum transactions, such as joint venture projects, business development in emerging markets, and acquisitions and divestitures, all of which has taken him to over 35 countries in Europe, the Former Soviet Union, the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America. The first five years of his career were spent in private practice, after which he worked for Conoco Inc. for nearly 28 years before retiring in 2008. Thereafter, he returned to private practice with an international law firm from 2008 to 2013, and subsequently as a solo practitioner and an international legal consultant. He also served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Houston Law Center from 2008 to 2016, teaching the course in Energy Law: Doing Business in Emerging Markets.

James holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from Arizona State University, a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from South Texas College of Law and a Master of Laws degree in International Legal Studies from New York University. He has published 20 legal articles for legal periodicals and books, and has made 17 presentations at international conferences in Houston, Dallas, London and Moscow. He is the author of a memoir entitled Volunteering in Ethiopia: A Peace Corps Odyssey (Beaumont Books 1991), and a coauthor of the second edition of the textbook Doing Business in Emerging Markets: A Transactional Course (Foundation Press 2015).

James is in the process of finding a publisher for the novel he has written entitled The Oil General, and he is the lead editor and one of the authors of an anthology entitled Eradicating Smallpox in Ethiopia: Peace Corps Volunteers' Personal Accounts of Their Adventures, Challenges and Achievements.