News and Views

Blank Rome Welcomes Prominent Former Chief Judge James T. Giles as Of Counsel in Philadelphia

Press Release

Blank Rome LLP is pleased to announce that Judge James T. Giles has joined the Firm as Of Counsel in the Commercial Litigation group in the Philadelphia office. A former chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, he will primarily focus his practice on alternative dispute resolution. He will also advise clients on complex matters in federal and state courts, and collaborate with the Firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee and Pro Bono Committee to further advance their initiatives and strategies. Judge Giles comes to Blank Rome after retiring from Pepper Hamilton LLP where he had served as of counsel since 2008.

“We are honored to welcome Judge Giles to Blank Rome,” said Alan J. Hoffman, the Firm’s Chairman and Managing Partner. “Serving on the federal bench for almost 29 years, he joins our team of former federal and chief judges who now practice law at Blank Rome—Of Counsel Edward H. Cahn, Of Counsel Nathaniel R. Jones, and Partner Stephen M. Orlofsky—and will advise and best position our clients using a wealth of wisdom and insights distilled from years of trial and case management experience.”

Judge Giles was appointed by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, and began his judicial duties on January 3, 1980. He served as chief judge of the Eastern District bench for seven years, from 1999 until 2006. Starting in 1990, in addition to discharging responsibilities associated with a full caseload, he regularly accepted special designations from chief judges of the Third Circuit to preside as a visiting judge for the District Court of the U.S. Virgin Islands to help reduce substantial backlogs of civil and criminal cases. In 2000, he received the Philadelphia Bar Association’s prestigious Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. Distinguished Jurist Award.

Judge Giles retired from the bench in October 2008 and rejoined Pepper Hamilton LLP where he had been a labor department partner prior to being appointed to the bench. There, he focused on alternative dispute resolution and, in complex cases, assisted in strategy and preparation for pretrial conferences, trials, and appellate briefings and arguments. He was an integral part of the firm’s diversity and pro bono programs and outreach efforts, including an inner city high school essay competition that bore his name. Before joining Pepper Hamilton in 1968, he had been an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board in Philadelphia, 4th Regional Office, following law school.

“Judge Giles’ legal experience, including his impressive tenure on the federal bench, is of tremendous value to the Firm and our clients,” said Grant S. Palmer, Chair of Blank Rome’s Litigation Department. “His distinguished service in the federal courts perfectly complements and enhances his active mediation and arbitration practice, and will be invaluable in growing the service offerings and capabilities of our commercial litigation group.”

Judge Giles handled a docket spanning the spectrum of civil and criminal cases typical for a busy metropolitan district court. He was appointed by the Multi-Litigation Panel to manage, for trial readiness and settlement efforts, significant MDL cases, notably among them In re Asbestos Products Liability Litigation, which initially involved more than 13 million asbestos cases; In re Air Crash near Peggy’s Cove, which involved the Swiss Air airline crash over international waters near Nova Scotia in September 1998; and In re Asbestos School Litigation, which was national in scope.

“I am thrilled to join Blank Rome and its commercial litigation practice, which enjoys an outstanding reputation nationally,” said Judge Giles. “In addition to an energetic alternative dispute resolution practice, I look forward to mentoring the Firm’s up-and-coming attorneys, honing their trial advocacy skills and litigation judgment.”

Blank Rome’s demonstrated dedication to diversity and inclusion, as well as its mandatory pro bono policy and consistent record of exceeding pro bono goals, were important in Judge Giles’ decision to join the Firm. He was the first African-American lawyer to join Pepper Hamilton, and the first person of color to be elected to its partnership. In recognition of his dedication to the legal profession and the minority community through civil, community, and legal service, in 2010 he was awarded the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award.

Judge Giles understands the importance of a law firm’s commitment to diversity and inclusion to it being taken seriously as a service provider in a national and global economy of diverse peoples, markets, and opportunities. “I particularly look forward to working with Grant, who co-chairs the Firm’s Pro Bono Committee, to advance to even greater heights Blank Rome’s pro bono record of service and accomplishments,” he stated.

Judge Giles is a member of the boards of directors of the American Arbitration Association, the Center for Literacy, the Independence Seaport Museum, and the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia. Judge Giles is a Master in the Temple American Inn of Court, and a member of the Historical Society of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He is also a member of the American, Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia bar associations.

Admitted to practice in Pennsylvania, the United States Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Judge Giles earned his LL.B. from Yale Law School and his B.A. in English from Amherst College.