James Bacchus is Chair of the firm's Global Practice and a leader in the firm’s overall worldwide practice. His emphasis in his own practice is on international business, including trade, investment, finance, and sustainable growth. In particular, Bacchus offers legal and strategic advice to business and other clients based on his unique experience with the many issues relating to the global rules for trade and commerce of the World Trade Organization (WTO). He is a former chief judge on the highest international tribunal of world trade, a former Member of Congress, and a former Special Assistant to the U.S. Trade Representative in the Executive Office of the President.
Bacchus works worldwide for the firm’s international business clients and is also engaged worldwide in numerous additional efforts to address shared global concerns. He is among the "B20" global business leaders selected to advise the "G20" heads of state on the international economy; he chairs the global Commission on Trade and Investment Policy of the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce; and he has chaired the Global Agenda Council on Governance for Sustainability of the Davos-based World Economic Forum. He has been appointed by the United Nations to the High Level Advisory Panel to the President of the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Previously, he served as the Chairman of the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization, the global court of final appeal in international trade in Geneva, Switzerland. The seven judges on the Appellate Body hear final appeals in international trade disputes involving the 95 percent of world commerce conducted by the more than five billion people in the 160 countries and other customs territories that are the Members of the WTO.
Bacchus was a founding member of the highest global trade tribunal, was twice appointed by consensus of the members of the WTO, and was twice elected Chairman by his six colleagues. During his eight years and two terms of service to the WTO, he was the only American, and the only North American, on the Appellate Body. Bacchus has a comprehensive knowledge of the more than 30,000 pages of global trade rules in the WTO treaty, and he has written many of the more than 50,000 pages of rulings that have clarified those rules in WTO dispute settlement.
Bacchus was the only member of the Appellate Body who served on the tribunal during all of the sixty appeals in the first eight years of the new international trade institution, which is the global successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The international trade disputes he judged involved billions of dollars in trade annually relating to goods, services, and intellectual property. Cases ranged from apples and bananas, to automobiles and airplanes, to semiconductors and supercomputers, to agriculture, textiles, clothing, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and steel.
In addition to his service at the WTO, Bacchus has also served as a Member of the Congress of the United States, from 1991 to 1995, representing the 15th Congressional District of Florida as a Member of the United States House of Representatives. His district included much of Orlando, Walt Disney World, Cape Canaveral, and the "Space Coast" of Central Florida. He was elected to two terms in the Congress, and chose not to seek election to a third term. He was the first Democrat in the history of the South elected to an open seat in the Congress in a district where Republicans outnumbered Democrats.
Bacchus’ intimate involvement in trade issues in Congress was a natural outgrowth of his previous experience. From 1974 to 1976, Bacchus served as a senior aide to Florida Governor Reubin Askew. From 1979 to 1981, he served as his special assistant while Askew was U.S. Trade Representative in the Executive Office of the President during the Carter Administration. At USTR, he helped monitor U.S. trade negotiations worldwide, and helped negotiate and implement trade agreements with numerous nations. He was the first Member of the Congress of the United States to have served previously at USTR.
After retiring from Congress in 1995, Bacchus founded the Orlando office of Greenberg Traurig. He served as the managing shareholder of the Orlando office for the next six years while serving also on the Appellate Body.
In addition to his current role with Greenberg Traurig, Bacchus is an Honorary Professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, China. He has been a faculty member and chaired sessions of the Salzburg Global Seminar in Salzburg, Austria. He has been a visiting professor of law at Vanderbilt University Law School in Nashville, Tennessee, and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Politics at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. He is a former journalist and a recipient of the national "Silver Gavel Award" of the American Bar Association for Outstanding Public Service in Journalism.
Bacchus is the author of the book Trade and Freedom, published in London in 2004, by Cameron May, featured nationally on "Book TV," sold worldwide, and recently published in Chinese in China. He writes and speaks frequently on a wide range of economic and other international issues in publications and on platforms worldwide.