James R.

Director of Recoveries & General Counsel
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

James R.
Archaeology
Archaeology
Undergraduate
2004
United States

My employment

Director of Recoveries & General Counsel
The Art Loss Register
United Kingdom
Creative arts and design
2013

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A day in the life of a Director of Recoveries & General Counsel in the United Kingdom

What I do

I handle the recoveries side of the business. This means that I work to secure the return of stolen or looted art, antiques and antiquities to their rightful owner. The work this involves is hugely varied, it might be negotiation, legal action, liaising with law enforcement agencies and insurers worldwide and so on. Everything is with the background of varying international law relating to cultural property.

In addition I am also involved in the wider running and promoting of the business as a risk management and due diligence tool.

Skills I use and how I developed them



Extracurricular skills:
My training as a lawyer was invaluable, but so too is my background as an archaeologist. It equips me with at least some idea of the concerns that many archaeologists have regarding the antiquities trade, and also an understanding of the importance of what I am working with.

What I like most

The variety, the challenge of working in a small business, the subject matter of our work, and the team I work with.

What I like least

Life in a small business can be challenging at times, there is not always anyone there to delegate something to.

The recruitment process

CV, covering letter, interview, chatting with the team.

My career history

I went to law school after graduating, then a training contract at a firm of solicitors in Westminster where I qualified in 2008. I then stayed there working in the litigation team until joining the Art Loss Register.

Courses taken since graduation

Law conversion, LPC, MSc (Oxon) Applied Landscape Archaeology

My advice to students considering work

Take every opportunity you can to build up a range of experience, even if it does not look immediately relevant to your next step. It is amazing how things can suddenly be very useful on the CV at a later date.

If anyone ever asks me how to become and art lawyer, or cultural property lawyer, I tend to say that it is almost impossible to plan a route to. Instead, you need to want to be a lawyer anyway, and then if the opportunity arises to focus on the area you should equip yourself to seize that chance. There are very few jobs in art law, but archaeology is a great background to come from if you are going into law so it should not stop you. But make sure that you would be happy as a commercial litigator, or real estate lawyer before starting.

My advice about working in my industry

If anyone ever asks me how to become and art lawyer, or cultural property lawyer, I tend to say that it is almost impossible to plan a route to. Instead, you need to want to be a lawyer anyway, and then if the opportunity arises to focus on the area you should equip yourself to seize that chance. There are very few jobs in art law, but archaeology is a great background to come from if you are going into law so it should not stop you. But make sure that you would be happy as a commercial litigator, or real estate lawyer before starting.

Next steps...

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