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Philadelphia Lawyer and Retired Judge to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award at PBA Minority Attorney Conference

HARRISBURG (Jan. 26, 2010) - Retired Judge James T. Giles of the U.S. District Court of Eastern Pennsylvania will be honored with the A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award during the 22nd Annual Pennsylvania Bar Association Minority Attorney Conference, "Minority Lawyers Pushing an Agenda for Change." The conference takes place March 18 and 19 at The Westin Philadelphia.

Judge Giles will receive the award at a March 19 luncheon, which will feature Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice, as keynote speaker.

The A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes the accomplishments of a lawyer or judge who has demonstrated dedication to the legal profession and the minority community through civil, community or legal service. Higginbotham, who died in 1998, was a civic leader, author, academic and federal appeals court judge who fought tirelessly against racial discrimination.

Judge Giles served more than 28 years on the U.S. District Court. Judge Giles was appointed to the bench by President Carter in 1979. From 1999 to 2006, he served as chief judge. He retired from the bench in 2008.

Currently, Judge Giles is of counsel with the Philadelphia office of Pepper Hamilton L.L.P. He focuses on mediation and arbitration matters, provides advice and counsel to firm clients and assists the firm's lawyers with briefing and trial strategies. He also is active in advancing the firm's diversity goals and initiatives. Judge Giles had practiced with Pepper Hamilton for 11 years before joining the federal bench. In 1968, he became the first African-American lawyer to join the firm and, in 1974, he became the first person of color to be elected to the firm's partnership.

During his time on the federal bench, Judge Giles handled a docket spanning a wide spectrum of civil and criminal cases. He was appointed to the multi-litigation panel to manage for trial readiness and to attempt to settle significant multi-district litigation cases, including In re Asbestos Products Liability Litigation, which now involves more than 13 million claims, and In re Air Crash near Peggy's Cove, which involved a 1998 Swiss Air crash over international waters near Nova Scotia. Other complex mass tort class actions over which Judge Giles presided include In re Asbestos School Litigation, which was national in scope, and Hurt v. Philadelphia Housing Authority, which resulted in a landmark decision that lead paint injuries do not create claims under certain federal statutes.

In addition, Judge Giles maintained a calendar of civil and criminal cases in the District Court of the U.S. Virgin Islands to reduce case backlogs in that district.

Judge Giles is a graduate of Amherst College and Yale Law School.

Judge Giles currently serves on the boards of directors for the American Arbitration Association, Independence Seaport Museum, Center for Literacy and Lawyers Club of Philadelphia.

The two-day Minority Attorney Conference also will offer these programs: "Economic Opportunities for Minorities in the 'Green' Market," "Race, Diversity and Criminal Justice: A View from the Trenches," "Practicing Beyond Your Area of Expertise," "Surviving and Thriving in the New Financial Norm," and "Health Care Reform: Ready or Not, Here It Comes." A networking reception honoring retired judges and lawyers who have made significant contributions to the legal community is included in the conference's programming.

The conference, which is being organized and hosted by the PBA Minority Bar Committee and sponsored by the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation, will offer up to seven hours (six substantive and one ethics) of CLE credits. For more information about the conference and the award presentation, visit the PBA Web site at http://www.pabar.org or contact the PBA Member Service Center at 800-932-0311.

Founded in 1895, the Pennsylvania Bar Association strives to promote justice, professional excellence and respect for the law; improve public understanding of the legal system; facilitate access to legal services; and serve the 29,000 lawyers who are members of the association.

Source: The Pennsylvania Bar Association, 100 South Street, Harrisburg, PA 17108