James Kimmel, Jr. is a lawyer, novelist, violence researcher, and social theorist who focuses on the intersections of law, psychology, and spirituality. He is a Lecturer in Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine and a Co-Director of the Yale Collaborative for Motive Control Studies, where he researches violence prevention, motive control, revenge cravings, justice addiction, nonjustice studies, and mental health peer support services. He also maintains a legal practice in healthcare law at Buckley, Brion, McGuire & Morris LLP and is a co-founder of Peercovery®, the first mental health and addiction peer and recovery support franchise network. Jim received his doctorate in jurisprudence from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a member of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and his B.S. degree summa cum laude from the Schreyer Honors College and the Smeal College of Business of the Pennsylvania State University.
Early in his legal career, Jim served as a law clerk to a federal court judge. Later, as an attorney at Pepper Hamilton, LLP and in his own legal practice, he appeared before courts across the country on behalf of a wide variety of clients, from indigent families and prisoners seeking better conditions of confinement to wealthy individuals and large corporations. Recognized as an expert in written advocacy and legal analysis, he has been retained as a consultant by hundreds of other lawyers and law firms to assist them in developing legal strategies and drafting legal arguments. He was an early pioneer in training lawyers in India to provide legal research to American law firms, and he holds a U.S. Patent as the inventor of the first online legal research assignment and ordering system, which helped make this possible.
Despite his professional success, over time Jim began to experience a conflict between his most deeply held spiritual beliefs and his duties as a lawyer. The search for a resolution to this conflict led him into the fields of law and spirituality, law and psychology, and, ultimately, into writing. His journey is chronicled in his book, Suing for Peace.
Jim is leading the movement to expand the national debate about violence prevention beyond gun control to include motive control and developed and studied the first motive control method for reducing violence by targeting the desire for revenge. He is the creator of SavingCain.org, the first-of-it’s-kind website aimed at saving lives by providing support and resources to help potential murderers and mass shooters overcome the desire to kill and that has received international news coverage. He is the creator of the Violence Interruption Court (VIC) criminal justice and neighborhood-based motive control model for interrupting and preventing violence and the Teen Court bullying prevention motive control model for schools. He is a founding organizer of Peace Day Philly, an advisor to the CURE Addiction Center of Excellence at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Addiction Studies, and the founder of the Nonjustice Foundation. Jim was also a co-founder of, and served as a Board Member, Executive Vice President, and General Counsel to, a licensed provider of mental health and addiction peer support recovery services with offices across Pennsylvania and a national reputation for providing innovative, research-based services and programming to individuals with serious mental illnesses in communities and within the criminal justice system.
Jim was featured with Bob Costas and Franco Harris in the motion picture documentary 365 Days: A Year in the Life of Happy Valley (2014) about forgiveness in the wake of the Penn State University Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. He and his research at Yale University were also featured in the book Schadenfreude: The Joy of Another’s Misfortune by Tiffany Watt Smith (Little, Brown, 2018).
Jim was raised on a farm in central Pennsylvania and worked alongside his great-grandfather tending a small herd of black angus cattle and raising the occasional litter of pigs. During high school and college, he worked part-time as a laborer and as a disc jockey and newscaster at three different commercial radio stations. One of his grandfathers was an ordained pastor in the Church of the Brethren; and at the age of eighteen, Jim delivered a sermon to his own Episcopal church. He is the first person in his family to graduate from college.
Currently a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Jim has taught as an adjunct professor at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife (also a lawyer) and their two children.