Jim Letten

Jim Letten

Butler Snow LLP


With a distinguished career in Federal Law Enforcement; Federal and State criminal prosecutions and investigations; and military and civilian intelligence and litigation experience, Jim Letten joined Butler Snow in 2015 while serving (2013-2016) as Assistant Dean for Experiential learning at Tulane School of Law, and is a partner with the firm, which has some 360 attorneys in 28 cities, including London and Singapore.  Jim utilizes his extensive experience consulting and providing representation in Foreign Corrupt Practices Act compliance, training, defense and other criminal and regulatory investigations by government agencies, as well as internal investigations, government audits and a wide variety of domestic and international matters.  


Jim previously served some 36-years as a prosecutor –30 years of it with the United States Department of Justice. Prior to his retirement at the end of 2012, he was the longest-serving United States attorney in the nation, and one of only three U.S. Attorneys appointed to the position by successive presidents from different parties. In all, he spent nearly 12 continuous years as the United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Louisiana. And his accomplishments were significant.


While serving as the Presidentially-appointed United States Attorney, oversaw, from its very inception through investigation, findings, negotiation, settlement, formalization and implementation, the U.S. Department of Justice Consent Decree involving DOJ oversight of the entire New Orleans Police Department—which was and remains the broadest and most sweeping consent decree of a local PD in U.S. history. He has been and remains over the last 14 years a regular faculty member of the New Orleans Police Department’s Training Academy—where he has taught both in-service and recruit-level basic legal concepts, stop and frisk, search and seizure, legal liabilities, federal/constitutional laws affecting police and other areas.

Additionally, as United States Attorney Jim served on the Attorney General's Advisory Committee (AGAC); co-chaired the AGAC Subcommittees on Violent and Organized Crime; and co-chaired the Attorney General's Special Policy Review Working Group on Capital Punishment. He also served on the AGAC Subcommittees on Terrorism and National Security, as well as Environmental Issues. Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, in addition to receiving a prestigious award for his leadership from the Attorney General of the United States, Jim also helped to establish and eventually served as the Director of the still-active National Center for Disaster Fraud.

Before his appointment as U.S. Attorney, Jim amassed an impressive record, initially as Chief of the Justice Department's Organized Crime and Racketeering Strike Force in New Orleans, and thereafter as the First Assistant United States Attorney for nearly 7 years, serving as lead prosecutor in the conviction of the entire New Orleans La Cosa Nostra crime family, and thereafter as the lead prosecutor in the investigation, four-month trial and conviction of former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards. During his 41-year legal career, Jim has litigated literally hundreds of jury and bench trials in both federal and state courts.

Recently, Jim has provided effective representation for a number of clients including local and international companies in a broad range of matters, and in particular building domestic and international anti-corruption compliance and training programs which have included high risk environments.  In 2009, Jim was the keynote speaker and principal presenter in Prague, Czech Republic and Bratislava, Slovakia at the very first international/European conference on anti-corruption following the collapse of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, focusing on those countries. More recently, in June 2019, Jim was a featured speaker at the New Haven School of International Jurisprudence Conference in Hangzhou, China on Global Trends and developments in Anti-Corruption Legislation—and while there, also served on a panel on international trade and arbitration. This will mark Jim’s third internationally-published chapter on trade, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and global anti-corruption in China. Jim has additionally authored, co-authored and published a series of blog posts for Butler Snow’s BizLitNews Blog about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which combined, to date has over thirteen thousand views. Teaming with Butler Snow’s broad spectrum of practices, Jim also routinely partners with our experts to provide important, productive representation to our corporate clients in U.S. immigration enforcement issues as well.  

Jim is a retired Commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve, in which he also served as a fully- credentialed NCIS Agent and Foreign Counter-Intelligence Officer (both Cold War and post-Cold War). His Naval duties over 20 years included Targeting Analyst, Squadron Intelligence Officer; Foreign Counter-Intelligence Officer assigned to both Defense Intelligence Agency and the Office of Naval Intelligence; and as NCIS Agent conducting street counter-drug operations, numerous presidential and vice presidential Protective Service Details, and Counter neo-Nazi force protection in Europe, to name a few assignments. During an assignment at the U.S. European Command in Germany (USEUCOM), Jim constructed and drafted the concept framework for the permanent International War Crimes Tribunal.

Following his retirement from DOJ career service, Jim served for over three years as the first Assistant Dean for Experiential Learning at Tulane law School, where he oversaw the restructuring and strengthening of the law school’s moot court program, and the creation of more hands-on, practical courses.

He received his B.A. in Communications from UNO in 1976; his J.D. from Tulane University School of Law in 1979 and is admitted to the State Bar of Louisiana and a number of Federal Courts.

Jim is married to JoAnn for 38 years, and they have two grown children, Erika and James—as well as two black Labrador Retrievers (Moose and Otto), and two cats. Jim also plays drums in local rock cover groups.

P.O. Box 55249, Metairie, Louisiana 70055-5249
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Fax: 504.832.2571
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