Practices & Industries
- U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. Tax Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit
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)
James Serritella chairs the Religious Organizations Practice group at Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella. 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 relations dimensions. Jim has consulted internationally on constitutional and other legal issues relating to religious and not-for-profit organizations.
Jim represents religious and other not-for-profit organizations in general corporate matters including governance and sponsorship issues as well as the creation of new entities, mergers, joint ventures, acquisitions, affiliations, and spin-offs.
He 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 others 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 faiths and other religious traditions.
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 a 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 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 one of the main architects of Cardinal Bernardin's groundbreaking 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.
Honors & Awards
- 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 Catholic Lawyers Guild of Chicago (2011)
- Honorary Doctor of Laws degree, North Park College and Theological Seminary (now North Park University) (2008)
- 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)
- Illinois Bar Foundation, charter 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, member (executive and litigation advisory committees)
- Center for Migration Studies, board of directors
- International Academy of Dispute Resolution, board of directors (2011–2014)
- Loretto Hospital, board of directors (1989–1991)
- Statewide Citizens Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, Department of Children and Family Services (1988–1994)
- Cook County State's Attorney's Task Force on the Foregoing of Life-Sustaining Treatment, moderator of task force meetings (1989)
- Lyric Opera Guild, board of directors (1979–1984)
- WTTW Chicago Public Television, board of trustees (1978–1981)
- Child Care Association of Illinois, board of directors (1975–1979)
- Supreme Court Rules That Students In Religious Schools Cannot Be Excluded From Government Aid ProgramsJuly 10, 2020
- May 18, 2020
- Inaugural program prepares professionals for their new roles as directorsAugust 28, 2018
- Charitable and commercial strategies converge in serving needy communitiesDecember 12, 2016
- November 22, 2013
- June 23, 2012
- November 10, 2011
- September 18, 2011
- "Bullying" Takes Center Stage as Focus of Firm Event "Bullying" Takes Center Stage as Focus of Firm EventApril 1, 2011
- November 16, 2010
- May 7, 2010
- featuring Stephen C. Voris, Susan M. Horner, Victoria R. Collado, Jay S. Dobrutsky, George J. Lynch, James C. Geoly, Edward J. Lesniak, Frederic A. Mendelsohn, Gerard D. Ring, April 5, 2010
- Editor in chief of "Religious Organizations in the United States, A Study of Identity, Liberty, and the Law"Carolina Press, 2006