Interviews with Jim Silkenat, President-Elect of the ABA


Sullivan & Worcester LLP Corporate Partner James R. Silkenat was elected president-elect of the American Bar Association on August 7, 2012 at the ABA's Annual Meeting in Chicago. Mr. Silkenat will serve a one-year term as ABA president-elect before taking office as president of the Association in August 2013 at the ABA's Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

Click on the videos below to hear Mr. Silkenat expound on the American Bar Association in his own words.

Mr. Silkenat reminisces on how he became involved with the ABA, and summarizes the organization's mission.   Mr. Silkenat describes the origins of his international law practice and the significance of his involvement with the ABA.


1. What do you see as the ABA’s mission?
The Mission of the ABA is a very straightforward one:  to serve our members, the profession and the public by defending liberty and pursuing justice as the national and international voice of the legal profession.  

2. How has that mission evolved over the past 10 years? 
The ABA plays an important role in the United States, in cooperation with state and local bar associations, in supporting and defending our justice system and helping lawyers serve their clients better. Over time, the role of the ABA has increasingly included international matters, both because that is important to our members and because justice systems in other countries value the leadership and practical assistance that the ABA can provide.   

3. Which issues do you plan to focus on as president of the ABA?
State Court funding problems are a major problem for the U.S. right now, along with inadequate access to justice in civil matters for most Americans. The ABA also needs to play a strong role in the evolution of legal education in the United States so that we will continue to be the international leader in that area. Another priority will be on jobs for lawyers, both for those just leaving law school and for those already involved in their careers.   

4. How does your perspective as a New York lawyer affect your outlook and priorities for the ABA?
New York lawyers have always played an influential role in the legal life of the United States, in part because of the number and quality of the lawyers here and in part because much of the nation's business is done through New York. Also, New York seems to face many of our national problems before other jurisdictions have to do so. That, again, may be a question of size and population, but it has resulted in some quite innovative thinking and problem solving by lawyers from New York.   

5. How do you recommend young lawyers get involved in the ABA?
Young lawyers, whether still in law school or soon after graduation, can find many activities of interest in the ABA, especially through the ABA Young Lawyers Division or the Law Student Division. Both groups offer opportunities for leadership and career growth and broad contacts with other lawyers around the country. The ABA's substantive Sections also are a great source of new information and business development prospects. The Sections, from Litigation, to Business Law, to Real Property, to Tax, to International Law, all offer younger lawyers valuable information that will assist their careers and help them serve their clients better.   

Click here to read the S&W press release on Mr. Silkenat's nomination to become president-elect of the American Bar Association.