After graduating from Rice University in 1981, Jim Wooten spent two years pursuing graduate studies in anthropology at the University of Chicago, then entered a J.D./Ph.D. program at Yale University. After completing his law degree in 1989, Wooten clerked for U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice of the Eastern District of Texas. In 1992-93, Wooten was an associate at Bredhoff & Kaiser, a leading firm in labor and employee benefit law. He later served as Legal History Fellow at Yale Law School and as a Golieb Fellow in Legal History at New York University School of Law before joining the University at Buffalo School of Law faculty in 1995. Wooten received his Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University in 2003.
Wooten teaches Contracts, Pension and Employee Benefit Law, Jurisprudence, and Legal Reasoning. His research focuses on regulatory policies affecting retirement plans, health plans and other employee benefit plans. He is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance and a Fellow of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel.
In 2000 and again in 2005, the editors of the Buffalo Law Review recognized Wooten for outstanding contributions to the journal.