Originally from the Sunshine Coast, James spent his childhood across regional Queensland. James completed undergraduate studies in commerce and law at Griffith University. He later completed postgraduate studies in law at the Queensland University of Technology. Prior to entering the Senate, James worked in Australia and overseas in various roles, including law, campaigns, public policy, and politics. James was elected as a Senator for Queensland in 2013, taking up his position on 1 July 2014. His office is based in Nambour on the Sunshine Coast.