James Grippando was born north of Chicago and raised in rural Illinois.
In his first job out of law school Grippando served as law clerk to the Honorable Thomas A. Clark, United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta. There and in private practice Grippando worked on a number of appeals in death penalty cases, an experience that later served him in writing his first published novel, The Pardon. From September 1984 to September 1996, Grippando was a trial lawyer in Miami. In a David vs. Goliath legal battle that lasted seven years, Grippando served as lead counsel on behalf of Florida chicken farmers in a case that was "the catalyst for wholesale change in the $15 billion-a-year [poultry] industry."
As a lawyer, Grippando wrote numerous scholarly articles. In the late 1980s, he shifted to creative writing, but his first attempt at fiction was never published. A near arrest in a case of mistaken identity sparked an idea for a new novel about a man accused of a murder that he may not have committed. Grippando's first published novel, The Pardon, was released in hardcover in September 1994, where he first introduced the character Jack Swyteck, a Miami criminal defense lawyer. Grippando wrote one more novel while still practicing law: The Informant (October 1996.) He then left the law to write full time, and a string of novels followed: The Abduction (1998); Found Money (1999); Under Cover of Darkness (2000); A King's Ransom (2001); Beyond Suspicion (2002); Last to Die (2003); Hear No Evil (2004); Got the Look (2006); Leapholes (for young adults) (2006); When Darkness Falls (2007); Lying with Strangers (2007); Last Call (2008); Born to Run (2008); Intent to Kill (2009); and Money to Burn (2010). Beyond Suspicion marked the return of character Jack Swyteck, and since then, all but Leapholes, Lying with Strangers, Intent to Kill and Money to Burn have been in the Jack Swyteck series.
Leapholes, Grippando's first novel for young adults, was also the first novel for young readers ever to be published by the American Bar Association. That same year (2006), Grippando's first short story, Operation Northwoods, was published in an anthology (Thriller: Stories to Keep you Up at Night Thriller ) with other top thriller writers.
Grippando writes outdoors at his south Florida home, and most of his novels are set in Florida, chiefly in Miami. He writes novels of suspense in the genre of crime fiction, including psychological thrillers and legal thrillers, many of which draw upon his experiences as a trial lawyer. Since 2004 he has served as "Counsel" in Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP, a national law firm headed by trial lawyer David Boies. Grippando's novels have been published in twenty-six languages: Bulgarian, Czech, Chinese (simplified), Croatian, Dutch, English, Estonian, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Romanian, Russian, Slovakian, Spanish, Serbian, Thai, Turkish, and Ukrainian.