As an accredited specialist in agricultural law, James was our resident guru on all things rural. The leading independent guide to the legal market in Scotland, described James as having "a great grasp of his subject" and "superb knowledge of complex issues".
Over the years he built up a first-rate practice and a hugely loyal and talented team around him. James loved the variety of his client base - from individual landowners and farmers to national charities to Government departments. He was also a trusted adviser, and indeed a good friend, to a large number of the firm's private clients and in many cases continued to act for different generations of the same family.
And they all placed a huge value on what one client described as his "calm, measured and pragmatic approach".
He was particularly proud of having acted on behalf of HRH Prince Charles, in connection with the Prince's intervention to save Dumfries House, one of Britain's most beautiful stately homes, for the benefit of the nation.
But as talented, hard-working and high achieving a lawyer as James undoubtedly was, the huge sense of sorrow which has engulfed the firm is much more about the kind of man he was and the great affection in which he was held right across the firm.
Just about every comment which has been shared with me about James over the last week or so has included the word "gentleman". There has also been an absolute consistency as to what it has been used as short-hand for - namely, an intrinsically and fundamentally decent person, who was always unfailingly courteous and honourable. He was simply one of life's good guys.
That fundamental decency was most commonly demonstrated in the natural and instinctive way in which he counselled and supported those around him. As hectic and demanding as life in a large law firm can often be, James always seemed to have time for others, whether that was to bring a calm and rational perspective to a particularly tricky issue or just to cheer someone up with a chat at the coffee machine.
And of course he was always great fun and loved being part of the whole breadth of firm life. From charity "Bake-Off" challenges to the "Big Sleep Out" in Princes St Gardens last December, one could always rely on James to be one of the first to put up his hand and get stuck-in.
James always seemed to come at things with a real "joie de vivre", whether that be throwing himself into the challenge of running marathons, schooling us in the wonder of chillies or even just enjoying the simple pleasures of an ice-cold pint of Tennant's with a packet of salt & vinegar peanuts.
A client had sent an email last week to pass on his condolences and in his message described James as "a thoroughly good person and a pleasure to spend time with". I can't think of a more apt way in which to sum up how we all felt about James.
He really was the best of us. We will miss him terribly.
Morton Fraser LLP