Fast Five with Lina James

Published on May 30, 2024

Lina James

I can’t think of another office or area of law where you advise elected officials as well as managers, first responders, and field staff all in the same day.” - Deputy City Attorney Lina James

Lina James serves as the Deputy City Attorney for the Office of the City Attorney. She has been with the city for 16 years, offering counsel on political conventions to Spectrum Center negotiations. As an Indian American, she hopes that a takeaway from Asian American Pacific Islander Month is that the AAPI community is seen, recognized and celebrated all year. Learn more about James in this month’s Fast Five.

Which part of the organization do you lead?

I serve as Deputy City Attorney with the Office of the City Attorney. In this role, I work closely with the City Attorney, City Council, and senior leadership while leading four teams of attorneys. We advise and provide legal support to all city departments on their daily public safety, business and operational needs.   

Why did you decide to work for the City of Charlotte?

Having worked in both the public and private sectors, I practiced criminal and civil law before I joined the city. Representing the City of Charlotte is exciting because it is the one area of law that most often affects our personal and professional lives. 

What is the biggest organizational priority you’re working on right now?

As the largest North Carolina municipal office, we have an obligation and responsibility to lead the way and raise the bar for how city attorneys’ offices can be of service to their city councils, their city administrations, and their larger communities. As attorneys, we tend to stick with the safest paths we’ve walked before, but that’s not always the priority of a growing city and council. Therefore, innovation, creativity, and adoption of newer technology within legal frameworks ought to become high priorities. 

What is your favorite part about working for the City of Charlotte?

I’ve always been intrigued by the intersectionality of law, policy and politics. I can’t think of another office or area of law where you advise elected officials as well as managers, first responders, and field staff all in the same day. In my time here, I’ve also had the privilege and pleasure of practicing alongside a highly qualified team with varied areas of expertise; our legal team has grown from about 20 attorneys to over 35. I’ve worked on major city projects such as the Hornets Arena and the NASCAR Hall of Fame; advised through two national political conventions; redistricting; and navigated and counseled City Council and staff on how we work through COVID – quite a range of law!  

What is your favorite restaurant in Charlotte?

I spent a few years of my childhood in Ethiopia, so Enat Ethiopian is one of my faves. I also love all Asian cuisine and I’m always down for good dim sum or a masala dosa. 

May is Asian American Pacific Islander Month. What does the month mean to you or how can someone celebrate the AAPI community?

As an Indian American, I’ve watched the Charlotte community diversify as we evolve into a global city. However, I do wish for a future in which Asians of all backgrounds are seen for their individual experiences and histories and celebrated at the same times and in the same spaces as others. You don’t have to wait until May to eat at the restaurant you love that you pass by every day or go to the cultural festivals that happen year-round in our diverse neighborhoods.