James Bacchus

Attorney in Orlando, FL
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.

His final decision for the WTO was as the presiding judge in the appeal of the complaint by the European Union, Japan, China, Brazil, and other WTO Members against restrictions applied by the United States on imports of steel. Following the decision by the United States to comply with the ruling by Bacchus and his colleagues on the Appellate Body, The New York Times concluded that this case was the rough equivalent of Marbury v. Madison, the 1803 decision that established the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of the constitution, able to force Congress and the executive branch to comply with its rulings (Page 25, December 5, 2003). According to The American Lawyer, James Bacchus, as much as anyone, can lay claim to being the John Marshall of the World Trade Organization (March 2004).

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.

While in the Congress, Bacchus was a leader in bipartisan efforts to advance international trade issues. He was a supporter of presidential fast-track negotiating authority on trade issues, a leading supporter of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a vocal advocate of extending normal trade treatment for China, a champion of the Caribbean Basin Initiative, and one of the six original co-sponsors of the implementing legislation for the Uruguay Round trade agreements that established the WTO.

Bacchus was also one of the principal supporters in Congress of the space program. He was a forceful advocate for commercial space development and for space exploration. He was one of the leading supporters of the space shuttle program, one of the original co-sponsors of the International Space Station, and an advocate generally for more public and private investments in science and technology. He was also especially active on issues relating to children, education, and the environment.

Bacchus' service in Congress drew wide praise. The Washington Post described Bacchus as one of the profiles in courage in the House. The Wall Street Journal called him a good-government Democrat. In his home state, the Orlando Sentinel praised him as someone who put his country's future before his own political career and chose to lead in the midst of the crowd. Florida Today concluded that he offered the vision and leadership needed to build a better future.

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.

Among his many global pursuits, Bacchus has been a member of the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris, has participated in the OECD's Roundtable on Sustainable Development, has chaired the ICC's Working Group on Guidelines for International Investment, has chaired the WEF's Working Group on Trade and Climate Change, and currently chairs the E15 Initiative on Trade and Climate Change. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bretton Woods Committee, and the Evian Group. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Committee for Economic Development and has served on the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law. He was one of the nine members of the Independent Review Group appointed by the Secretary of Defense to investigate conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

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.

Awards & Recognition

•Listed, The Best Lawyers in America, International Trade and Finance Law, 2006-2015
•Listed, Chambers Global, International Trade: Trade Remedies & Trade Policy, 2008-2014
•Listed, Chambers USA Guide, International Trade: Trade Remedies & Trade Policy, 2007-2014
•Listed, Super Lawyers magazine, Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers, 2007-2014
•International Edition, 2007-2008
•Recipient, Grad Made Good, Alumnus of the Year, Florida State University, 2005
•Listed, Florida Trend magazine, Florida's Most Influential, 2004
•Rated, AV Preeminent 5.0 out of 5

AV, BV, AV Preeminent and BV Distinguished are registered certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used under in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies.

Articles, Publications, & Lectures

•Quoted, Strong Growth Forecasted At 2015 Orange County Economic Summit, Rejoice Magazine, January 17, 2015
•Quoted, APEC Leaders Endorse Two-Year Study of Asia Free Trade Block, Trade Integration, Bloomberg BNA, ? November 11, 2014
•Mentioned, Under Assault from Big Green, Coal is Fighting Back, The Washington Examiner, August 26, 2014
•Author, Ending Tariffs on Green Goods Will Show Free Trade Can Fight Climate Change, The Guardian, August 12, 2014
•Author, Good News for Green Goods, World Economic Forum, July 10, 2014
•Author, More Than Markets at Stake in Trans-Atlantic Trade Negotiations, Forbes, June 4, 2014
•Author, The WTO Needs China to Lead, The Wall Street Journal Asia, Editorial Section, May 29, 2014
•Author, In Memory of Reubin Askew, Florida Trend magazine, May 2014
•Author, What Does Climate Change Mean for Business? World Economic Forum, April 22, 2014
•Quoted, China Export Restrictions On Metals Violate Global Trade Law, Panel Finds, The New York Times, March 26, 2014
•Author, The Pacific Alliance Is Quietly Revolutionizing World Trade, World Economic Forum, March 5, 2014
•Featured, At Davos Meeting, Green is Good, Orlando Sentinel, February 25, 2014
•Author, Israel Can Lead the Way in Green Economy, The Jerusalem Post, January 9, 2014
•Quoted, Group Steps Up Pressure to Speed U.S. Okay of Gas, Coal Exports, Reuters.com, December 4, 2013
•Quoted, New Report Raises Concerns that Energy Export Delays Could Violate Trade Agreements, House Energy and Commerce Committee, December 4, 2013
•Quoted, U.S. Delays in LNG, Coal Export Permitting Could Violate WTO Agreements, Rigzone.com, December 4, 2013
•Mentioned, NAM Study Slams LNG, Coal Export Permitting Delays, IndustryWeek, December 3, 2013
•Quoted, Delaying US Energy Exports May Run Afoul of WTO, Report Warns, Oil and Gas Journal, December 3, 2013
•Quoted, Former WTO Leader Deems LNG Permitting Delays As Trade Agreement Violations, Houston Business Journal, December 3, 2013
•Quoted, Gas Export Delays Could Violate World Treaty, Group Says, Houston Chronicle, December 3, 2013
•Quoted, U.S. LNG, Coal Export Delays Violate Trade Pact, Atty Says, Law360, December 3, 2013
•Quoted, U.S. LNG Process an Affront to Free Trade, WTO Expert Says, Natural Gas Intelligence, December 3, 2013
•Co-Author, LNG and Coal: Unreasonable Delays in Approving Exports Likely Violate International Treaty Obligations, National Association of Manufacturers Report, November 2013
•Author, The Front Burner: Commerce Boosts Growth, Income, Competitive Edge, The Orlando Sentinel, September 6, 2013
•Quoted, How Congress Might Have Already Tied Obama's Hands in Trade Negotiations, The Washington Post, July 17, 2013
•Quoted, Global Business Group Prods WTO to Reach Customs Deal This Year, Chicago Tribune, April 18, 2013
•Author, They Waste Energy and Political Capital, Americas Quarterly, Fall 2012
•Author, The Case for Clean Subsidies, Harvard Business Review, November 13, 2012
•Author, World Trade Rules Need An Exemption For Green Energy, International Business Times, November 2, 2012
•Author, Export Drop Shows Need for New Trade Strategy, Huffington Post, August 26, 2011
•Author, It's Time to Stop Investment Protectionism, International Business, July 2012
•Author, China's Incentive to Heed the WTO, The Wall Street Journal, July 8, 2011
•Author, Time to Cut Farm Subsidies Now, The Hill, July 6, 2011
•Author, Trade, Growth and Green, Dallas Committee on Foreign Relations, June 21, 2011
•Author, Politics for Grown-Ups: A Competitive America for a Competitive World, Remarks to the Dallas Committee on Foreign Relations, June 8, 2011
•Author, Indonesian Forest Plan May Be Breakthrough on Forest Plan, Huffington Post, May 24, 2011
•Author, A Rare-Earths Showdown Looms, The Wall Street Journal, May 20, 2011
•Author, Former WTO Judge: Putin's Cynical Effort to Get Russia into WTO, International Business Times, May 6, 2011
•Quoted, Supplies Squeezed, Rare Earth Prices Surge, New York Times, May 2, 2011
•Author, U.S. Financial Problems Similar to Jefferson's Debt, The Hill, April 19, 2011
•Author, Japan, Supply Chains and Adam Smith, International Business Times, April 6, 2011
•Author, Can We Still See and Serve Our True National Self-Interest? Huffington Post, March 30, 2011
•Author, American Competitiveness Needs Space Program, The Hill, March 16, 2011
•Author, Chinese Drought Could Cause Global Food Crisis, Huffington Post, March 16, 2011
•Author, Concluding Doha Now, The Journal of Commerce, March 7, 2011
•Author, How the U.S. Can Create Jobs by Improving China Trade, International Business Times, February 4, 2011
•Quoted, How Trade Policy Can Save the Planet, Counsel to Counsel, Fall 2010
•Author, China's Entering WTO is Successful: Former Chair of WTO Appellate Body, China Business News, September 16, 2010
•Author, Russian Export Ban Mirrors Old Error, International Business Times, August 31, 2010
•Author, The Case for Free Trade with Panama, Latin Trade, August 12, 2010
•Author, Is Progress Still Possible in This Heat? Huffington Post, August 4, 2010
•Author, Obama Must Discover the WTO, Huffington Post, July 26, 2010
•Author, Roll Back Protectionism, International Business Times, July 14, 2010
•Author, A Trade War with Zero Currency, The Wall Street Journal Asia, July 12, 2010
•Author, Diverting A U.S.-China Trade War, Forbes.com, June 28, 2010
•Quoted, Government Review to Examine Threat of World Resources Shortage, The Guardian, May 31, 2010
•Author, Global Finance Proposal Threatens Trade Finance, Huffington Post, May 25, 2010
•Author, Hoarding Resources Threatens Free Trade, The Wall Street Journal Asia, May 19, 2010
•Author, Give Air Cargo a Lift, The Journal of Commerce, May 10, 2010
•Author, Don't Let Financial Reform Politicize the Fed, Huffington Post, April 29, 2010
•Author, Combating Climate Change, Forbes.com, April 26, 2010
•Author, Danish Detente, The Deal Magazine, April 16, 2010
•Author, U.S. Risks Becoming Economic Afterthought in Latin America, Huffington Post, April 15, 2010
•Author, Don't Push the WTO Beyond Its Limits, The Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2010
•Author, Brazil Tests Obama Commitment to Trade Enforcement, Huffington Post, March 23, 2010
•Author, Trading Up, Forbes.com, March 4, 2010
•Author, Banks Without Borders, The Deal Magazine, February 19, 2010
•Author, We Need More NAFTA, Not Less, The Miami Herald, February 15, 2010
•Author, Obama's Plan for NASA and Reaffirming Our Commitment to Space Exploration, Huffington Post, February 9, 2010
•Author, Next Chapter for Climate Change, Forbes.com, January 13, 2010
•Author, Breaking the Deadlock at Doha, The Wall Street Journal, December 17, 2009
•Quoted, 'Glass House' of Subsidies Means U.S. WTO Wins May Be Harder, Bloomberg.com, September 9, 2009
•Author, A 21st-Century Trade Agenda, The Deal Magazine, April 2009
•Author, Climate Change Is a Trade Issue, Too Forbes.com, March 29, 2009
•Author, Economic Nationalism Will Undermine Recovery, Chicago Tribune.com, February 8, 2009
•Author, Brave New World - An Agenda on International Policy for President Obama, The Deal Magazine, February 6, 2009
•Author, What a Trade War With China Would Look Like, Forbes.com, February 2, 2009
•Interview, James Bacchus Urges Obama to Work with Trade Partners in the Americas, Council of the Americas, January 13, 2009
•Author, Free Trade Should Be Part of the Stimulus Plan, The Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2008
•Author, After the Bailout, Tariffs? Forbes.com, December 19, 2008
•Author, Appellators: The Quest for the Meaning of And/Or, World Trade Review, Volume 4, Number 3, pp. 499-523, 2005
•Author, The Aristotelian, Law in the Service of Human Dignity - Essays in Honour of Florentino Feliciano, Cambridge University Press, 14-21, 2005
•Author, Chains Across the Rhine, Amicus Curiae, Journal of the School of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London, Issue 58, 10-15, March/April 2005
•Author, The Garden, Fordham International Law Journal, Volume 28, Number 2, January 2005
•Author, The Strange Death of Sir Francis Bacon: The Do's and Don'ts of Appellate Advocacy in the WTO, Legal Issues of Economic Integration, Volume 31, Issue, 13-24, 2004
•Author, Trade and Truth - Advice for Americans from an Advocate for Trade, The Journal of World Investment & Trade, Volume 5, Number 5, October 2004
•Author, A Few Thoughts on Legitimacy, Democracy and the WTO, Journal of International Economic Law, Volume 7, Number 3, 667, September 2004
•Author, The New Trade Law: What It Means to Business, Vanderbilt Business, Volume 24, Number 1, 24, Summer 2004
•Author, Turning to Tacitus, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Volume 37, Number 3, 631, May 2004
•Author, The WTO Must Open Up its Trade Dispute Proceedings, European Affairs, Volume 5, Number 2, 88-92, Spring 2004
•Author, Lone Star: The Historic Role of the WTO, University of Texas, Texas International Law Journal, Volume 39, Issue 3, March 2004
•Author, Open Up the WTO, The Washington Post, February 20, 2004
•Author, The Garden, Fordham International Law Journal, 2004
•Author, Groping Toward Grotius: The WTO and the International Rule of Law, Harvard International Law Journal, Volume 44, Number 2, 535, Summer 2003
•Author, Thoreau's Pencil: Sharpening Our Understanding of World Trade, The Florida State University Law Review, Volume 30, Number 4, 911, Summer 2003
•Author, The Bicycle Club: Affirming the American Interest in the Future of the WTO, Journal of World Trade, Volume 37, Number 3, 429, June 2003
•Author, An Education in 404 Pages, Vanderbilt Magazine, Spring 2003
•Author, Table Talk: Around the Table of the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Volume 35, Number 4, 1021, October 2002
•Author, Symposium Address: The Role of Lawyers in the WTO, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Volume 34, Number 4, 953, October 2001
•Author, Trade and Freedom, Cameron May, London, 2004
•Speaker, WTO Implications of US Restrictions on Energy Exports, The CATO Institute, Washington, D.C., February 21, 2014
•Panelist, The Pacific Trade Agenda: Implications for the Western Hemisphere, American Society / Council of the Americas, September 10, 2013
•Speaker, Justice and Sustainability, Presented to the Board of Directors of the Salzburg Global Seminar, Salzburg, Austria, July 23, 2013
•Speaker, A Common Gauge: Harmonization & International Law, Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy at Boston College, Boston, MA, April 16, 2013
•Speaker, From Collision to Vision: Climate Change and World Trade, World Economic Forum, November 2010
•Speaker and Keynote Speaker, Questions in Search of Answers: Trade, Climate Change, and the Rule of Law, WTO Conference, Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2010
•Speaker, Testimony of James Bacchus to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, Washington, D.C., June 9, 2010
•Speaker, Open Doors for Open Trade: Shining Light on WTO Dispute Settlement, National Foreign Trade Council, Washington, D.C., January 29, 2004
•Speaker, Lecky's Circle: Thoughts from the Frontier of International Law, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London, April 10, 2003
•Speaker, Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda: The Consolations of WTO Dispute Settlement, International Bar Association, Geneva, Switzerland, March 20, 2003
•Speaker, The Appeals of Trade: The Making of an Old GATT Hand, American Bar Association, Washington, D.C., January 31, 2003

Associated News & Events

Press Releases

08.20.14 17 Greenberg Traurig Orlando Attorneys Listed In Best Lawyers In America 2015

08.19.14 129 Greenberg Traurig Florida Attorneys Listed In Best Lawyers In America 2015

06.13.14 Greenberg Traurig's James Bacchus Appointed by the United Nations as an Official Advisor to the UN Climate Negotiations

06.02.14 Nine Greenberg Traurig Orlando Attorneys Included in 2014 Chambers USA Guide

05.23.14 Greenberg Traurig Attorneys, Practices Included in 2014 Chambers USA Guide

04.11.14 Eight Greenberg Traurig Attorneys In Florida Recognized in 2014 Chambers Global Guide

03.18.14 Greenberg Traurig Attorneys, Practices Worldwide Recognized by Prestigious Chambers Global Guide

08.15.13 5 Greenberg Traurig Washington D.C. Attorneys Listed in 2014 Edition of Best Lawyers in America

06.11.13 55 Greenberg Traurig Florida Attorneys Included In 2013 Chambers USA Guide

05.28.13 Chambers USA Guide 2013 Includes 175 Greenberg Traurig Attorneys, 33 Practice Areas

Published Articles

09.01.14 Israel Can Lead the Way in Green Economy

08.12.14 Ending tariffs on green goods will show free trade can fight climate change

06.04.14 More Than Markets at Stake in Trans-Atlantic Trade Negotiations

06.01.14 The WTO Needs China to Lead

04.22.14 What Does Climate Change Mean for Business?

02.03.14 Good News for Green Goods

11.02.12 World Trade Rules Need An Exemption For Green Energy

11.01.10 From Collision to Vision: Climate Change and World Trade

07.14.10 Roll back protectionism

04.26.10 Combating Climate Change


08.06.08 Opportunity to Enlist U.S. Government's Help to Address Trade Barrier Problems in Foreign Markets -- Deadline is November 6

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Peer Rating 5.0 of 5

Areas of Law

  • Global
  • Global Trade & Investment
  • Sustainability
  • Government Law & Policy
  • Financial Institutions
  • Global Human Capital Solutions
  • Globalization & Commercialization


Peer Rating


Overall Peer Rating

5.0 out of 5.0
  • Meets very high criteria of general ethical standards
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Experience & Credentials


Chair, Global Practice

Admission Details

Admitted in 1979, Florida
2005, District of Columbia
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
U.S. Court of International Trade

Law School Attended

Florida State University College of Law
Class of 1978
High Honors, Order of the Coif, Editor-in-Chief, FSU Law Review

University Attended

Vanderbilt University
Class of 1971
High Honors in History, magna cum laude, Founders Scholar, Member, Phi Beta Kappa; Honorary Doctorates: Rollins College, Sierra Nevada College, University of Central Florida

Yale University
Class of 1973
Woodrow Wilson Fellow

Birth Information

Born in 1949
Nashville, Tennessee, 1949

Associations & Memberships

Professional & Community Involvement•Chair, International Chamber of Commerce, Commission on Trade and Investment Policy
•Chair, World Economic Forum, Globa... More

Contact Information






Send email to James Bacchus

Office Information
James Bacchus
Chair, Global Practice
 450 South Orange Avenue, Suite 650,
Orlando, FL 32801

Maintains an office in multiple locations

Greenberg Traurig, LLP (Orlando, Florida)

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