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Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sylvester James Jr. Receives ABA General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division 2011 Solo and Small Firm Lifetime Achievement Award

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 23, 2011 – The _ General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division has honored Kansas City, Mo., mayor and lawyer, Sylvester (“Sly”) James Jr., with its 2011 Solo and Small Firm Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was presented to James at a luncheon during the division’s 2011 Spring Meeting in St. Louis on May 13.

James was sworn in as mayor of Kansas City on May 1, and serves as the second African-American mayor in the city’s history.

James is the founder of, and served as principal in The Sly James Firm, Trial Lawyers, P.C., prior to becoming mayor.  At the firm he practiced in the areas of plaintiff’s personal injury, medical negligence, nursing home negligence, civil litigation, mediation and arbitration.

James’ legal career began in 1983 as an associate at Blackwell, Sanders, Matheny, Weary & Lombardi.  He rose to become the first African-American partner in the firm’s history in 1990.  Three years later, James and colleague Nancy Kenner left to form their own firm, Kenner & James, P.C., emphasizing plaintiff’s personal injury, medical malpractice and nursing home negligence.  James remained there until founding his own firm in 2002.

Always active in the community, James was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City and to the Board of the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority by former Mayor Kay Barnes. He also was also appointed to serve on the Boards of the Enhanced Enterprise Zones of Kansas City and the Jackson County Ethics Commission. James served as one of four co-chairs of the “Save Our Stadiums” committee, a successful tax initiative to refurbish the Truman Sports Complex in Kansas City in 2006.

James served as president of the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association (2003), where he began a successful initiative to promote and increase diversity in the Kansas City legal community; the initiative continues today.  Between 1992 and 2002, he was a member, secretary and later president of the Missouri Board of Law Examiners.  James has served as director of the Kansas City Bar Foundation, vice president of the Public Interest Litigation Clinic, and is a former vice-president of the Board of Directors of Legal Aid of Western Missouri.  He is a Fellow of the _ and was a member of the Board of Governors of the Missouri Association of Trial Lawyers from 1995-2003.

James graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English (cum laude) from Rockhurst College and received his Juris Doctorate (cum laude) from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1983 after transferring from Syracuse University Law School in 1981.

The Solo and Small Firm Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes solo and small firm attorneys who are widely accepted by their peers as having significant lifetime distinction, exceptional achievement, and distinction in an exemplary way. The winners are viewed by other solo and small firm practitioners as epitomizing the ideals of the legal profession and of solo and small firm practitioners.

The ABA General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division is the only ABA entity exclusively devoted to solo practitioners and small firm lawyers. The division, with approximately 25,000 members, serves as the voice of the “Main Street lawyer.”  Solo and small firm practitioners represent half of the nation’s lawyers, and the GPSolo division provides a community for them within the ABA.

With nearly 400,000 members, the _ is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world.  As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

West, a Thomson Reuters business, is a primary sponsor of the ABA General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Project Award and a co-sponsor of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

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Comments (1)

  • Larry Knouft
    11:39 AM November 15, 2011

    I knew Syl very well back in the day of when he was a singer. I was a promoter of bands, and did book his group on several ocassions. He should make a good mayor. Good luck to him.