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By his own reckoning, James Bacchus has been involved in more World Trade Organization cases than anyone else on the planet. A former chairman of the WTO’s seven-judge appellate body, Bacchus heard 60 appeals between the court’s founding in 1995 and the end of his second term in 2003. Now he’s a partner in the D.C. office of Greenberg Traurig, where he uses his in-depth knowledge of the WTO — not to mention the experience gained in four years as a member of Congress — to represent corporate and government clients with international concerns. One such client is the China Copyright Alliance, a coalition of trade groups including the Recording Industry Association of America, the Motion Picture Association of America, the Independent Film and Television Alliance, and the Association of American Publishers. Bacchus, 58, is counsel to the alliance. “He is incredibly thorough,” says Patricia Scott Schroeder, president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers. “He is very fair, very erudite, and you never see him half-prepared.” Schroeder also commends his skill in handling intra-coalition politics. “He’s got four or five really major groups, all with very strong opinions. They’re not all always on the same page, yet he manages it very well.” For more than two years, the alliance has been helping the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative prepare the case against China. The United States claims that China is violating TRIPs, or the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, by failing to enforce copyright and trademark laws on imported works awaiting approval to enter the Chinese market. The United States also alleges that China is allowing seized infringing goods back into the channel of commerce. In a second case, the United States seeks lower Chinese trade barriers for books, music, videos, and movies. The two countries began dispute settlement consultations in June. Last month the United States concluded that the bilateral talks had failed and asked the WTO to form a panel to hear the dispute. “Our job,” says Bacchus, “is to assist lawyers at [the U.S. Trade Representative] in any way that they need. We serve as counsel to the United States industry and support the U.S. government.” Intellectual property disputes have also come up in Bacchus’ work for the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, as well as broader trade policy and regulatory questions. “Jim can get in and digest very complex issues, then sit back and look at the strategic landscape and make recommendations,” says Kathleen Jaeger, president and CEO of the generic group. Jaeger describes Bacchus as “a power player in Washington,” noting that she has been impressed by his vast WTO experience and his political background. Different issues trouble the Mexican Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries, and Nourishment, counterpart to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “We represent all of Mexico on issues related to international trade in agriculture worldwide,” says Bacchus, pointing out that agriculture is a key issue in the Doha Round of international trade talks. (His work for Mexico requires him to register as a foreign agent.) Bacchus came by his trade expertise though a rather circuitous route. He earned a master’s degree in American history from Yale in 1973, but found himself drawn to politics. The next year he went to work on the successful re-election campaign of Florida Gov. Reubin Askew. While serving as an aide to Askew, Bacchus went to law school at Florida State University, earning his J.D. in 1978. When Askew left office in 1979, both he and Bacchus briefly signed on with Greenberg Traurig in Miami. But within the year, Askew was named U.S. trade representative. Bacchus followed him to Washington, serving as his special assistant from 1979 to 1981. It was the beginning of what has proven to be an abiding interest in the field. Nonetheless, after Askew’s unsuccessful 1984 presidential bid, Bacchus returned to Florida to join Akerman Senterfitt, where he remained until 1990. That year, he was elected to Congress; he served two terms as a Democrat representing the 15th District of Florida. But commuting between Washington and Florida took too great a toll on his family, so Bacchus chose not to seek re-election in 1994. “I decided there were other ways to serve,” he says. In 1995, he launched Greenberg Traurig’s Orlando office. At the same time, he was nominated by the United States to sit on the newly created WTO appellate body. Bacchus, one of seven founding members of the court, calls it “a wonderful experience.” It was all-new terrain. “Every case was a case of first impression,” he says. He wrote many of those first 30,000 pages of decisions clarifying global trade rules, culminating in the 2003 decision that the U.S. safeguard measure on certain steel imports did not comply with WTO rules. During his two four-year terms, Bacchus also helped establish the procedures of the court and was elected by his colleagues as chairman in 2002 and 2003. He returned again to Greenberg Traurig in 2004 and moved to the Washington office in 2005. Notable colleagues include Irwin Altschuler and Ira Shapiro, former general counsel of the U.S. Trade Representative.

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