James Gilliam has been the deputy executive director of the ACLU of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) since April 2010. He oversees the day-to-day operations of the organization. Before joining the ACLU SoCal, James was a litigation associate and pro bono coordinator at Paul Hastings. He led the team that worked pro bono with the ACLU SoCal on the B-18 class action lawsuit challenging detention conditions for undocumented individuals held in Los Angeles.
Gilliam is also an adjunct professor at Loyola Law School, where he teaches Law & Sexuality and other public interest lawyering courses.
Gilliam graduated first in his class summa cum laude from Middle Tennessee State University and cum laude from Loyola Law School, Order of the Coif. During law school he served as Chair of the Public Interest Law Foundation, as the first Chief Symposia Editor of the Law Review, and extern clerked for the Hon. Harry Pregerson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He also spent a semester working at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and working with Public Counsel on its General Relief Advocacy Project.
A longtime activist for the LGBT community, prior to attending law school James served as the executive director of the organization in Nashville, TN that produced the annual gay pride parade and celebration.
In 2007 Gilliam became the most junior attorney ever to receive Loyola Law School’s Pro Bono Alumni of the Year Award for his pro bono work. Gilliam served for six years as co-chair of the Sexual Orientation Bias Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and is a member of the Project Board for the Los Angeles Public Interest Law Journal. In 2010, the National LGBT Bar Association—on whose Board of Directors Gilliam previously served—named him one of the Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40. Gilliam was among the inaugural class of individuals who were recognized by KCET in 2011 as Local Heroes for LGBT Pride Month. In 2012, the Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Association of Los Angeles honored Gilliam with the organization’s Co-President’s Award. In 2013 he received Loyola Law School’s OutLaw LGBT Alumni of the Year Award.