JAMES JOHNSTON BLANCHARD was born in Detroit, Michigan. He received a bacheor’s degree in 1964 and a master’s degree in 1965 from Michigan State University. In 1968, he received a law degree from the University of Minnesota. He worked as an legal aide to the Michigan secretary of state from 1968 to 1969 and as a Michigan assistant attorney general from 1970 to 1973. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1974 and served four terms. In addition, he has received several honorary doctor of law degrees, the Outstanding Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota, and the Tree of Life Award from the National Jewish Fund. He chaired the Democratic Governors’ Association and the 1988 Democratic National Platform Committee. From 1992 to 1993, he was a partner with Washington-based law and lobbying firm Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand. From 1993 to 1996, he served as Ambassador to Canada and then in 1996 he rejoined the law firm.