Annual Meeting 2011

New York Lawyer James Silkenat Is in Line to Become ABA President in 2013


This morning’s meeting of the ABA Nominating Committee turned into a two-man show now that the current races for the association’s two highest posts have become uncontested.

That means the way is clear for James R. Silkenat, a partner at Sullivan & Worcester in New York City to be formally selected as president-elect nominee by the committee when it next meets in February at the 2012 midyear meeting in New Orleans. Because Silkenat is now running uncontested, that action is a given, and it also is virtually assured that the House of Delegates will formally make him president-elect in August at next year’sannual meeting in Chicago. Silkenat will then automatically become president in August 2013 at the annual meeting in San Francisco, serving a one-year term.

Likewise, Robert M. Carlson, a member of Corette Pohlman & Kebe in Butte, Mont., is virtually assured of being confirmed as the nominee to chair the House of Delegates when the Nominating Committee meets in February. Carlson will take the gavel of the ABA’s 566-member policy-making body from current chair Linda A. Klein of Atlanta at the close of next year’s annual meeting. He will serve a two-year term.

In the weeks leading up to the annual meeting, Ellen F. Rosenblum, an Oregon Court of Appeals judge in Salem, and Howard H. Vogel of Knoxville, Tenn., withdrew from the contest for president. Meanwhile, C. Elisia Frazier of Pooler, Ga., and Kay H. Hodge of Boston, withdrew as candidates for chair of the House. Vogel, Frazier and Hodge are in private practice.

In a brief address at the Nominating Committee meeting, Silkenat gave a nod to his unsuccessful previous run for president. “I’ve been at these candidate forums before,” he said, “and believe me, this is a whole lot better.”

Silkenat said it’s too early to outline specific initiatives that he might launch as president, but he identified four general areas that he’s considering for special attention: how the ABA can give more support to lawyers in small firms and solo practice, efforts to build ABA membership, funding for the courts, and diversity in the ABA and the legal profession.

Silkenat currently represents the New York State Bar Association in the House of Delegates. He also chairs the Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fundraising Committee, and he is a member of the Commission on Women in the Profession. He is vice-chair of the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, and a member of the World Justice Project Board of Directors. He served on the Board of Governors in 1994-97.

Carlson is Montana’s state delegate in the House, and he chairs the House’s Drafting Policies and Procedures Committee. He is a member of the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. He served on the Board of Governors in 2001-04.

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