As New York law firms and the state’s judiciary have strived to meet demands brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, cancellations and postponements have been the norm, and the New York Law Journal’s annual Professional Excellence Awards were no exception. Though social-distancing concerns forced us to move our event online, we could not let this historic year slip by without officially celebrating this year’s winners.

Originally scheduled to take place in October at the Marriott Marquis, the Professional Excellence Awards ceremony will be hosted virtually on Tuesday, November 17, at 5 p.m. While the ceremony may look and feel a bit different from years past, our commitment to recognizing excellence among members of New York’s distinguished legal profession continues, featuring lawyers who have had an impact on the profession and who have shared their insights with us.

More than 80 award winners were culled from entries collected late last year and in early 2020, including the coveted Attorney of the Year award. Our thanks go out to nominators and to our Attorney of the Year finalists, Barry Berke, Roberta Kaplan and Stephen Warnke.

In addition to those three finalists—the winner will be announced at our virtual ceremony—we have nine Lifetime Achievement Award winners, 21 Distinguished Leaders, 27 Rising Stars, 11 Litigation Departments, a dozen innovation awards and two In-House Impact winners. As always, the array of talent is phenomenal, highlighting many recognized attorneys and firms.

New in this year’s event are the awards for Innovation, both for firms and individual attorneys. We are excited to report this category was well-received, yielding many impressive nominees, and you will find these awards useful and illuminating.

For more information on the virtual event, please visit the New York Legal Awards 2020 site. To register to view the virtual event, please click here.

Please join us in saluting the 2019-2020 winners of the New York Law Journal’s Professional Excellence Awards, as we continue to wish you and your families safety, happiness and good health.

- Michael Marciano, Acting Bureau Chief 

View the Digital Edition of the Professional Excellence Awards. 


Lifetime Achievement Awards: This year we’re honoring nine attorneys for their accomplishments and impact on the legal community and the practice of law over the course of their careers:

Corinne Ball, partner at Jones Day Michael Bamberger, senior counsel at Dentons Leonard Boxer, partner at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan Kenneth Fisher, member of Cozen O’Connor Stanley Grossman, senior counsel at Pomerantz Mary Hevener, partner at Morgan Lewis & Bockius Fredric S. Newman, founding partner of Hoguet Newman Regal & Kenney Noreen Quirk, partner at Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy Miles Ruthberg, of counsel at Latham & Watkins


Attorney of the Year Finalists:

Barry Berke

Roberta Kaplan

Stephen Warnke




Litigation Departments of the Year: Honoring the top department in general litigation and two general litigation finalists as well as top specialty practice departments.

General Litigation Winner: Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher Finalists: Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom

Class Action: Weil, Gotshal & Manges Finance: Sullivan & Cromwell Insurance: Simpson Thacher & Bartlett Intellectual Property: Kirkland & Ellis Labor and Employment: Morgan, Lewis & Bockius Products Liability/Mass Torts: Dechert Professional Liability: Latham & Watkins Real Estate: Rosenberg & Estis



Distinguished Leaders: Others may fly under the radar, but this group of extraordinary lawyers had great performances while demonstrating clear leadership skills that resulted in positive outcomes.

Robin Adelstein • Carmita Alonso • Jason Clark • Shanell Cramer • David Crichlow • David Elsberg and Jennifer Selendy • Sandra Goldstein • David J. Greenwald • Miriam Harwood • Matthew Ingber • Marc Jaffe • Caroline Krauss and Valentina Shaknes • Linda A. Lacewell • Kellie Lerner • Scott Levy • Jeremy A. Lieberman • Ken Lore • Sharon Nelles • Jayant (Jay) W. Tambe • Douglas Wigdor • Milton Williams



Rising Stars: The region’s most promising lawyers under 40.


Jennifer Banner Sobers • Ting S. Chen • Melissa Colón-Bosolet • Anne Cortina Perry • Alejandro Cruz • Alexander C. Drylewski • Brandilyn Dumas • Morgan Fraser Mouchette • Susannah Geltman • Leah Godesky • Helene Hechtkopf • Alexia Korberg • Justin D. Lee • Duane Loft • Julia Malkina • Jeffrey Mok • Harris Mufson • Shivani Poddar • Ina C. Popova • Sasha Rosenthal-Larrea • Katherine M. Sinderson • Tiffany J. Smith • Marisa Sotomayor • James Valentino • Brian Wolfe • Ji Hye You • Gabriella Ziccarelli



Innovation Awards: We honor forward-thinking firms and individuals for developing unique practice niches, employing creative uses of technology, contributing to the improvement of their institutions or committing themselves to pro bono, charitable and professional volunteer work.


Firms: Cravath • Fragomen • Paul Weiss • Proskauer • Ropes & Gray

Individuals: Judge Andra Ackerman, Albany County Court • David Concannon, Yvette Valdez and Stephen Wink, Latham & Watkins • Lisa Denig, Office of Court Administration • Matthew Galvin, AB InBev • Farrah Pepper, Marsh & McLennan • Steven Roosa, Norton Rose Fulbright • Jim Walden, Walden Macht & Haran



In-House Impact Award: This award recognizes outstanding work performed by general counsel and in-house legal departments over the past year. The award is based on success stories: how a given corporate counsel’s office, regardless of its size, came up with innovative programs, used ingenuity to solve problems or surmounted a scarcity of resources and still delivered high-quality client service.

PepsiCo Inc.

Kevin Fumai, Oracle America