James R. Silkenat, a retired partner in the New York office of the national law firm of Sullivan & Worcester and a member of its Corporate Department, is a former President of the 400,000 member American Bar Association.
Silkenat has a long and distinguished record of service at the ABA. Before his election by the ABA House of Delegates last year as the Association’s President-Elect, he was a member of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession and the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. He also served as Co-Chair of the ABA Solo and Small Firm Leadership Coalition.
Silkenat also served as Chair of the ABA Section of International Law (receiving its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007), Chair of the ABA Section Officers Conference, and Chair of the ABA Standing Committees on Membership and Constitution and Bylaws.
Silkenat has been a member of the ABA House of Delegates since 1990. In his role as ABA State Delegate from New York, he was Chair of the body’s New York Delegation from 2000 to 2009. He is a former member of the ABA Board of Governors and its Executive Committee, and is a former national Chair of the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation.
Silkenat is the director and vice president for the World Justice Project. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Law Institute, and served as Chair of the Lawyers Committee for International Human Rights (now Human Rights First). He was also Chair of the Commission on the World Justice Project and of the Council of New York Law Associates (now the Lawyers Alliance for New York). He was a Fellow in the U.S. State Department Scholar/Diplomat Program and a Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Silkenat is the recipient of the Diversity Champion Award of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.
A frequent author and lecturer, Silkenat is the editor or co-editor of 14 books and author of more than 100 articles on legal and justice system issues. His books include The Law of International Insolvencies and Debt Restructurings, The Imperial Presidency and the Consequences of 9/11: Lawyers React to the Global War on Terrorism and The ABA Guide to International Business Negotiations.
In his legal practice at Sullivan & Worcester in New York, Silkenat helps coordinate the firm’s international business practice and concentrates on the areas of project and infrastructure finance, banking, securities law, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate law. He is a former Legal Counsel at the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group in Washington, D.C.
Silkenat received his Bachelor of Arts from Drury College, where he received the Distinguished Alumni Award for Career Achievement in 2000 and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters Degree in 2012. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago School of Law, where he was an Editor of the University of Chicago Law Review, and his Master of Laws in International Law from New York University School of Law.