Former ABA President James R. Silkenat named as Honorary Bencher at the Middle Temple in London
Boston - October 28, 2015 - Former American Bar Association President James R. Silkenat was called to the Bench as a Master of the Honorable Society of the Middle Temple in London. Mr. Silkenat, a partner in the New York City office of Sullivan & Worcester LLP, received the honor in a ceremony Tuesday night in London.
The Middle Temple is one of the four Inns of Court in London exclusively entitled to call their student members to the English Bar as banisters. The Inn is governed by its Masters (also known as Benchers), who are elected from senior members of the bar and judiciary. Of the Inn's roughly 600 Benchers, the majority are Queen's Counsel, senior barristers appointed by the Crown for their eminence as advocates.
Honorary Benchers, such as Mr. Silkenat, include Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., British Prime Minister, David Cameron, individuals involved in the arts and members of the Royal Family — currently Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. Sir Walter Raleigh and the great English legal scholar William Blackstone also were Benchers. Five members of Middle Temple signed the Declaration of Independence, seven were signatories to the United States Constitution.
"For any lawyer, from any jurisdiction, it is a career highlight to be honored by Middle Temple, said Silkenat. "The Inn and its members have been a particular source of inspiration for me and for lawyers around the world. I am very grateful to my fellow Benchers for inviting me to join their number."
Middle Temple Benchers from the United States have included, in addition to Chief Justice Roberts, William Howard Taft, Warren E. Burger, William H. Rehnquist, several American Ambassadors to the Court of St. James and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Currently, the Inn has approximately 113 Honorary Benchers.
The Middle Temple was founded in medieval times (its Hall, where the ceremony took place, was built in 1570 and Shakespeare performed in it) and its core purposes are still based on the principles set out in the Royal Charter of 1608:
- Education and training of students and barristers
- Promotion of diversity and access to the Bar through financial support and other means
- Achievement of the highest standards of advocacy in support of the judiciary and the rule of law
- Promotion of the ethos of the Bar
- Maintenance of the highest professional standards in the public interest.
Mr. Silkenat was in London earlier this year with 900 ABA members and guests for the American Bar Association's celebration of the 800th Anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta, to rededicate the ABA Memorial to Magna Carta in Runnymede, one of the events in a celebration attended by Queen Elizabeth, Prince William and Prime Minister Cameron.
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