Democrat for Maryland

Meet Jim

Jim Shea

A Lifelong Marylander

Jim Shea is a lifelong Marylander who has led public and private organizations across the state, including the Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland, the Empower Baltimore Management Corporation, and the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, all while turning his business into a global enterprise.

Jim has decades of experience across the state. He is running for Governor because he wants Maryland to flourish. He knows Marylanders need help, and they won’t be getting any from Larry Hogan, Donald Trump, or the Republican Congress.  He wants to take the leadership skills he has developed throughout his career and use them as he invests in the state’s future. We must make these investments in everything from education to infrastructure. As Governor, that is exactly what he will do.

Jim was born in Baltimore to John and Patricia Shea. His father fought in World War II and was a salesman.  His mother was a Baltimore County school guidance counselor. Growing up, Jim attended Baltimore County Public Schools before heading to Princeton University and the University of Virginia School of Law.  After earning his law degree, Jim moved back to Maryland, where he has lived ever since. He has been married to his wife, Barbara, for 40 years, and they have been blessed with four children and two grandchildren.

At the age of 42, Jim was chosen to serve as the Managing Partner and later Chairman of Venable. Over the course of Jim’s 22-year leadership, Venable grew by over 1,000%, making it the largest law firm in Maryland and one of the largest in the world. Led by Jim, Venable transitioned from a primarily Baltimore law firm to a national organization that employs more than one thousand people.


Venable has maintained and cultivated a robust pro bono practice and even has a charitable foundation of its own.  The foundation’s contributions are so substantial that Venable is the most charitable law firm in the country on a per-capita basis. Among its many worthy causes is the House of Ruth, an organization that provides various services to the victims of domestic violence. The firm has represented some of Maryland’s most vulnerable citizens, including a high-profile case to protect Maryland’s foster children. In 2016 alone, the firm donated more than $3 million to charities and dedicated more than 23,000 hours to pro bono clients. Because of the services that the law firm provided to the community and the firm’s work environment, Venable has received several awards, including a Network 2000 award for “Women in the Workplace” and the “Diversity Trailblazer” award from the Black CEO Summit.

While leading his law firm, Jim has been very active civically. He served on the Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland for ten years and was Chair for four of those years. As Chair, he oversaw a system of 12 public universities, 40,000 employees, 160,000 students, and a budget of $5.4 billion. Jim was a strong supporter of a prolonged tuition freeze, which made higher education more affordable for Maryland’s families, while also improving the quality and attractiveness of the institutions. Jim also supported and oversaw the implementation of Maryland’s DREAM Act, which granted in-state tuition to Maryland’s undocumented children.


Jim also served as the chair of other successful and critical civic institutions across the state. For ten years, he was Chair of the Empower Baltimore Management Corporation (EBMC). Led by Jim, EBMC created hundreds of jobs and supported small businesses in East and West Baltimore. Some of EBMC’s most notable achievements include the development of Montgomery Park and a revolving small business loan program to provide capital to small and start-up businesses – a program that still exists today. As Chair of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, Jim was a leading advocate for faster, more reliable, and more accessible transit across the state. Jim knows that our larger focus should be on offering many modes of travel and that we should consider quality of life rather than simply encouraging driving everywhere. And as Chair of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, he worked to make downtown Baltimore a more walkable and livable place for citizens and businesses.

Jim Shea started his career as a federal law clerk, working for Judge Joseph H. Young in the United States District Court of Maryland. After his clerkship ended, he joined a private practice, and then moved to the Attorney General’s office to serve as an Assistant Attorney General.

Behind the scenes, Jim has served in Maryland for decades. He knows that now is the time to step forward and offer his voice. He will be the powerful and steady hand that Maryland needs in the Governor’s Office to stand up to Donald Trump and to move our state forward.

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