James was appointed as a Lecturer at the University of Liverpool in 2015 following the completion of his doctoral thesis. James' research for his PhD focussed on the legal framework for citizen participation through instruments of direct democracy, particularly the European Citizens Initiative and UK referenda. James continues to work in the area of EU participatory democracy. He organised a major conference on 5th May 2016 titled ''Democratic Participation in a Citizen’s Europe: What Next for the EU?', which has led to an edited collection of the same title. James has also published on the legal admissibility of European Citizen's Initiative proposals in the EU Constitutional Law Review, and on EU citizen participation, openness and the European Citizens initiative during the TTIP negotiations in the Common Market Law Review.
James works extensively with civil society organisations in the area of participatory democracy, such as the ECI Association and Democracy International. He recently led an EACEA funded project to hold citizens assemblies on the future of EU democratic participation in four EU member states, and online deliberation through partnership with WeMove. The project concludes with a conference in Liverpool in December 2018. James worked as special adviser to the European Economic and Social Committee during the revision of the legislation relating to the European Citizens Initiative. James is currently working with the Initiative for Civic Space in Northern Ireland to develop citizen participation.
Prior to starting his PhD James worked for over a decade for Citizens Advice and has developed an academic interest in the area of Access to Justice. He published in an edited collection on the impact of legal aid and other funding cuts on the provision of legal advice in the Liverpool City Region in 2017. In December 2017, James was co-PI on an EHRC funded research project investigating the impact of legal aid cuts on access to justice and people's lives. The final report informed the Government review of access to justice in 2018. In June 2019 James received funding from Liverpool City Council for a project to understand and develop access to justice and legal advice in Liverpool.