James Silkenat (LL.M. ’78), a partner at Sullivan & Worcester, was voted president-elect at the American Bar Association’s annual meeting in Chicago in August, which will lead to a one-year term as president beginning in August 2013.
Silkenat’s impending presidency caps off more than three decades of leadership within the ABA. In the 1970s, the organization invited Silkenat to join its first delegation to China, and he served as chair of the China Law Committee. He went on to chair the ABA’s Section of International Law, Section Officers Conference, and Standing Committees on Membership and Constitution and Bylaws. Silkenat also sat on the Board of Governors and its Executive Committee and the ABA’s diversity commission, which has provided scholarships totaling more than $3 million to minority law students, as well as the ABA’s Commission on Women in the Profession. For those and other efforts, he received the New York City Bar Association’s Diversity Champion Award in 2009. Among Silkenat’s priorities as president are improving legal education as well as tackling immigration, the death penalty, election reform, and gun violence. “There has been lots of talk among lawyers on those issues but not necessarily real agreement,” he says. “I’m hoping lawyers can provide more information for the public and for the rest of the legal profession, and maybe we can come up with some better answers.”
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