James A. Serritella
Jim is on the Firm management committee and chair of the Religious and Not-for-Profit practice group. He focuses his practice on serving the legal needs of tax exempt religious and not-for-profit organizations and managing overall client relationships.
Jim represents parties in mediations and other alternative dispute resolution processes, which he helps design. He also functions as a mediator and a consultant to attorneys engaged in mediation or other alternative dispute resolution efforts. For the past two decades, he has advised clients regarding the management and resolution of individual claims and groups of complex interrelated claims. He advises on general corporate, constitutional and regulatory matters as well as governance and sponsorship issues. He also represents clients in connection with crises having legal, ethical, public relations and community relation dimensions. Jim has consulted internationally on constitutional and other legal issues relating to religious and not-for-profit organizations.
The general corporate matters include governance and sponsorship issues as well as the creation of new entities, mergers, joint ventures, acquisitions, affiliations and spin offs.
Jim has represented many kinds of entities including associations, churches, dioceses, synods, religious orders and congregations, hospitals and other health care entities, colleges, elementary and secondary schools, seminaries, social services agencies and institutions, and cemeteries. Many of these entities are affiliated with or sponsored by a religious organization, while some are secular in nature. The religious organizations come from a variety of traditions including Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Evangelical, and Protestant churches, as well as Jewish and Hindu entities and other religious traditions.
Jim has represented the prevailing party in constitutional and public policy litigation including the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case of NLRB v. the Catholic Bishop of Chicago, the Illinois Appellate Court cases of Grace Lutheran Church v. Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Galich v. the Catholic Bishop, and Catholic Bishop v. the Village of Justice and the Circuit Court of Cook County case of Catholic Charities v. Leahy. He was lead counsel for Cardinal Joseph Bernardin in Cook v. Bernardin. He has filed amicus curiae briefs on many public policy and constitutional issues in the United States Supreme Court, the Illinois Supreme Court and other courts. These briefs addressed issues such as terminating treatment for the seriously ill, education finance, taxation of exempt organizations, and religious liberty. Jim negotiated the affiliation of a women's college with a major university as well as the affiliation of a religiously-sponsored hospital with a secular health care network. He was also one of the architects of Cardinal Bernadin's ground breaking policies for dealing with clerical sex abuse of minors.
Jim was the moderator of the Cook County State's Attorney's Task Force on the Forgoing of Life Sustaining Treatment which produced the Illinois Health Surrogate Act. He has also served on: the Illinois Secretary of State's Ad Hoc Committee to Revise the Illinois Not-For-Profit Corporation Act; the Department of Children and Family Services, Statewide Citizens Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect; the Illinois Attorney General's Charitable Trust Division's Advisory Council; the National Catholic Cemetery Conference Ad Hoc Committee on Law and Legislation; and the National Conference of Christians and Jews Advisory Committee on Church, State and Taxation.
Jim has served on the boards of the Illinois State Bar Association, Mundelein College, St. Xavier College, St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, the North American College in Rome, Loretto Hospital, the Illinois State Historical Society, the Illinois Child Care Association, WTTW-TV/PBS and the Lyric Opera Guild. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Music of the Baroque, a Chicago performing arts group that promotes appreciation for classical music.
Jim has written and lectured extensively on religious freedom and on legal issues affecting exempt organizations. He is the editor-in-chief of Religious Organizations in the United States, A Study of Identity, Liberty, and the Law, an 834-page book published by Carolina Press. The book is a collection of essays designed to develop a new jurisprudence for organized religion. Jim is the founder of the DePaul University College of Law Center for Church/State Studies and served as chair of its Advisory Board. He was also a founder of the Center for Migration Studies in New York, and an Associate Editor of the International Migration Digest (now called the International Migration Review).
Jim received his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School in 1971. He earned an M.A. from the Committee for the Analysis of Ideas and Study of Methods at the University of Chicago. He has a B.A. from St. Charles Seminary College of Liberal Arts (State University of New York) and a second bachelor's degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He received mediation training from the National Health Lawyers Association; he also received advanced mediation training from the CPR International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution, the Program on Negotiation at Harvard University, and the Center for Dispute Settlement.
Jim is a member of numerous professional and civic organizations including the Chicago, Illinois State, and American Bar Associations as well as the Canon Law Society of America and the Diocesan Attorneys Association. He is also a Charter Fellow of the Illinois Bar Foundation and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.
Jim was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from North Park University, the John Courtney Murray Award from the DePaul University College of Law, the Rerum Novarum Award from St. Joseph Seminary, the Caritas Christi Urget Nos award from Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Pax et Bonum Award from the Franciscan Friars and the Outstanding Leaders Award from the Carmelite Order.
Illinois and U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, 1971; U.S. Supreme Court, 1976; U.S. Tax Court, 1985; U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit, 1992; U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit, 1993; U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit, 1995; U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit, 1996
- State University of New York (St. Charles Seminary, B.A., 1965)
- Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy (B.A., 1996)
- The University of Chicago (M.A., 1968; J.D., 1971)
Professional and Civic Involvement
- Charter Fellow, Illinois Bar Foundation
- Fellow, American Bar Foundation
- Fellow, Chicago Bar Association
- Member, Illinois State Bar Association
- Member, American Bar Association
- Member, Canon Law Society of America
- Member, Diocesan Attorneys Association (Executive and Litigation Advisory Committees)
- Member, Board of Directors, Music of the Baroque (2010-)
- Board of Directors, Center for Migration Studies (2012-)
- Board of Directors, International Academy of Dispute Resolution (2011-)
- Board of Directors, Child Care Association of Illinois (1975-79)
- Board of Directors, Comprehensive Community Services of Metropolitan Chicago (1976-82)
- Board of Directors, Loretto Hospital (1989-91)
- Board of Directors, Lyric Opera Guild (1979-84)
- Board of Trustees, WTTW Chicago Public Television (1978-81)
- Illinois Attorney General's Charitable Trust Division's Advisory Council (1991-)
- Moderator of Task Force Meetings, Cook County State's Attorney's Task Force on the Foregoing of Life-Sustaining Treatment (1989)
- State-wide Citizens Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, Department of Children and Family Services (1988-1994)
- United Way of Metropolitan Chicago Government Relations Committee (1979-84)
- Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great, Presented by the Holy See (2012)
- Extraordinary Knight Award, Presented by Father Ryan Council, Knights of Columbus (2012)
- Bishop Quarter Award, Presented by the Archdiocese of Chicago (2011)
- Catholic Lawyer of the Year, Presented by the Archdiocese of Chicago (2011)
- Caritas Christi Urget Nos, Presented by Catholic Charities (2003)
- Rerum Novarum Award, Presented by St. Joseph Seminary (1999)
- Pax et Bonum Award, Presented by Saint Peter's Church, Franciscan Friars (1992)
- John Courtney Murray Award, Presented by the DePaul University College of Law (1988)
- Outstanding Leaders Award, Presented by the Carmelite Order (1979)
Articles and Presentations
Sign up to receive our free print publication