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After a brief spell of duty in the Far East as a subaltern with a Gurkha infantry battalion, James Nelson qualified as a solicitor but seeking more excitement he went on to join the Army Legal Corps in 1982, as a Captain. During the years that followed he served as a military lawyer, largely advising on the law of armed conflict, until his retirement in 2015 as a Colonel. These duties took him to all corners of the globe, from Belfast, Berlin and Bogota to the Balkans, Katmandu and Khartoum to Kabul, and San Remo to Seattle.