James Meeks holds a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College and a legal degree from Columbia University School of Law. Upon graduating from law school, he served as a clerk for Judge Carl McGowan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He taught law at University of Iowa College of Law from 1964 to 1978, and also served as associate dean. From 1964 to 1969, Professor Meeks was the faculty advisor to the Iowa Law Review.
In 1978, he left Iowa for Ohio State University, where he served as a dean, law professor, and special assistant to the President of the university. His work focuses on torts and antitrust.