Meet The Shareholder: James Noble

Q. You are a native of New Mexico – tell us what brought you to Colorado and what your favorite aspects are about living here.

A. Colorado is a perfect fit for me. My family has lived in neighboring New Mexico for several generations. I moved here to provide my family an opportunity to experience more opportunities, while still enjoying the way of life that we’re accustomed to – enjoying the outdoors, having friendly neighbors, and of couse the beautiful weather! We still have deep roots in New Mexico, and spend a lot of time there. My background has allowed me to develop a multi-state practice with clients in both Colorado and New Mexico, which I am deeply grateful for.

Q. Share with us your experience as a construction project manager for the City of Santa Fe, NM.

A. This was my first job out of college. My bachelor’s degree was in architecture, so I began working with the city department that manages building projects, including everything from bus stops to golf courses. This experience was one of the significant factors in my decision to attend law school. I found that I actually enjoyed negotiating contracts and then making sure they were implemented correctly.

Q. What led you to attend law school?

A. In addition to the experience I just mentioned, I suppose it was a matter of genetic inevitability. I am the fourth generation in my family to become a lawyer. My great grandfather was a Justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court, and every generation after him has also included lawyers. My dad is an immigration lawyer, helping people move to the United States and stay here. Seeing the wide variety of opportunities in this profession, and opportunities to do meaningful work really appealed to me.

Q. How did you get your first job in the legal field?

A. My first job was a clerkship with a Justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court. Although this was my first job in the field, I still view it as the highlight of my career. I assisted in writing several important opinions that had a small part in shaping the common law of that state.

Q. How did you come to join Welborn Sullivan Meck & Tooley?

A. I had worked for an Arizona-based larger law firm with a Colorado office for about seven years, and did some really interesting and rewarding work there. The water law department was very successful, and I and the other lawyers developed strong client bases. In 2011, Carolyn Burr and I determined that it would be best to join this firm, to allow us to continue to work with some of our clients with whom we had strong relationships, and to pursue new opportunities.

Q. Who has been the biggest influence on your legal career?

A. It’s impossible to narrow it down to just one. The original influence was certainly my father, who has been an inspiration not just for being a good lawyer, but by using his skills for good. Another mentor was the Supreme Court Justice I worked for, Pamela Minzner. She was a true scholar and a genuinely humble yet confident legal mind.

Q. Name one skill you think every good lawyer should have.

A. The ability to disagree without being disagreeable.

Q. If you could pass on one piece of advice to a new associate, what would it be?

A. Be careful when deciding what area of law will be your focus. In this era of increasing specialization, the decisions you make in the early years will likely have an impact for the rest of your career.

Q. Is there a case you’ve worked on that has been particularly interesting or unusual?

A. When I was in Arizona, I participated in the negotiations of a major tribal water rights settlement. The agreement and all of its related documents were several thousand pages long. The agreement literally required an act of Congress to be implemented, as well as court approval. It took the cooperation of many of the major water users in the State of Arizona, along with the Federal Government to make it happen.

Q. What do you enjoy the most about the practice of law?

A. Working with clients. There is something very satisfying about getting to know those you work for on a long-term basis, and becoming a trusted advisor to them.


James Noble

  • Q: Name three of your favorite travel destinations.
  • A: Albania (my wife’s home country); Pagosa Springs, CO (where I have visited almost every summer since I was a kid); and Santa Fe, NM (my hometown).

  • Q: What books are you currently reading?
  • A: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

  • Q: What is your strongest personality trait?
  • A: I like to think that I have a level head under pressure.

  • Q: What are your favorite activities outside work?
  • A: Hanging with the family; marathon running and serving the less fortunate through church.

  • Q: What is your favorite movie?
  • A: Tough choice. Probably the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

  • Q: Do you have any pets?
  • A: Yes, an obnoxious golden doodle named Misty.