James R. Silkenat assumes ABA Presidency

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James R. Silkenat, a partner in the New York office of Sullivan & Worcester and a member of the law firm’s Corporate Department, assumed the ABA presidency for a one-year term this month at the association’s Annual Meeting.

In a speech to the ABA House of Delegates Aug. 12, Silkenat vowed to address, through creation of a Legal Access Job Corps Task Force, both the unmet legal needs of the low-income population and the underemployment of recent law school graduates.

“Instead of looking at the dearth of jobs and the large number of unmet legal needs as two separate silos, we will find ways to match young lawyers who need practical job experience with disadvantaged clients who need legal assistance,” Silkenat said. “We must find a way to improve the fit between the needs of our profession and those of society.”

In addition, he said he will continue the ABA’s work toward sufficient funding for the federal judiciary and on legislation addressing the issues of immigration, gun violence and election law.

Silkenat has been a member of the ABA House of Delegates since 1990 and chaired the 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 also has served as chair of the ABA Section of International Law, the Section Officers Conference and the ABA Standing Committees on Membership and Constitution and Bylaws. He also served on the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession and the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity and co-chaired the ABA Solo and Small Firm Leadership Coalition.

Silkenat received his J.D. from the University of Chicago School of Law and his Master of Laws in International Law from New York University School of Law.

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