James W. McConkie grew up in New York City and London, England. He earned his law degree from the S. J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah. Following graduation, he joined the staff of U. S. Congressman Gunn McKay (D. Utah), eventually becoming Chief of Staff. In 1977 Jim was appointed as an Assistant United States Attorney in the State of Utah and successfully prosecuted criminal cases. He left the office in 1980 to run for Utah Attorney General.
After concluding his years of public service, Jim entered private practice as a founding member of the law firm of Parker & McConkie. His practice has focused in the area of personal injury and civil rights for more than four decades. Jim has always been dedicated to using the law to represent and protect the rights of individuals and families injured by the negligence of others or the wrongful acts of corporations or the government. He has represented victims in all kinds of cases, including medical malpractice, trucking accidents, auto accidents, traumatic brain injuries and wrongful death.
Jim and his partner, Bradley H. Parker, have prosecuted a number of high-profile cases. In 1992 they represented the sister-wives of a polygamist group in the wrongful death of their prophet/leader and obtained a $52 million verdict. In 2000 the firm represented a child who had been injured at birth because of medical negligence, obtaining a $10 million verdict. In 2004, Parker & McConkie settled a civil rights suit against the University of Utah for religious discrimination. In 2009 they represented the State of Idaho in a case against drug manufacturer, Eli Lilly. The company deceptively failed to warn the public about serious side effects of its drug, Zyprexa. In that case, Parker & McConkie recovered $13 million for the State of Idaho. In 2020, Jim and Brad successfully represented the family of Lauren McCluskey in a wrongful death, Title IX discrimination case against the University of Utah, obtaining a settlement of $13.5 million. In 2020, Jim was recognized by the Utah State Bar as the “Lawyer of the Year”.
In addition to his law practice, Jim also taught constitutional law as an adjunct professor at Westminster College for many years. Jim and his partner, Brad, have also been active in several non-profit groups supporting social issues in the community. They founded Citizens Against Radio Active Waste (CARW), a bipartisan group opposing the storage of radioactive waste in the west desert of the state of Utah. In 2017 they formed the Refugee Justice League, a non-profit organization of attorneys and other professionals offering pro-bono legal help to refugees in Utah who have experienced discrimination because of their religion, ethnicity, or national origin. The Refugee Justice League now has a membership of over 800 lawyers in the State of Utah.
Jim has also co-authored a book with his wife, Judith E. McConkie, on historical Jesus scholarship titled Whom Say Ye That I Am: Lessons from the Jesus of Nazareth (Kofford Books, Salt Lake City, 2018) and an earlier volume on Mormon history called Looking at the Doctrine and Covenants Again for the First Time (Temple Books, Salt Lake City, 2010).