Editor’s Note

From Shakespeare to Breaking Bad, lawyers frequently get a bad rap, but in the pages that follow we highlight attorneys whose unparalleled excellence shatters that misconception—out with Saul Goodman, in with our 2017 Professional Excellence honorees.

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Attorney of the YearLitigation Department of the YearDistinguished LeadersRising StarsGC Impact & In-House Legal Department AwardsJudges of the Professional Excellence Awards

Lifetime Achievement

The NYLJ honors an attorney’s accomplishments and impact on the legal community and the practice of law over the course of their careers.

Ira Millstein

Senior Partner, Weil Gotshal & Manges

Called a “governance guru,” “statesman” and “boardroom crusader,” he has championed governance reform and transformed the relationship between companies’ boards and their shareholders and management. Because of Ira, directors are more aware of their role and responsibilities to serve the best interests of the company as a whole.

By Barry Wolf, Executive Partner, Weil, Gotshal & Manges


Sara Moss

Executive Vice President and General Counsel, The Estée Lauder Companies

Sara Moss has been described as a “force of nature”—a tireless advocate for her principles, her clients, her family and her friends. She has forged a remarkable legal career while raising a family of four children—and she has done it all with humility, warmth and integrity.

By Mary Jo White, Partner and Senior Chair, Debevoise & Plimpton


Gary P. Naftalis

Partner, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel

Year after year, Gary Naftalis is rated the top trial lawyer in New York. (Eat your heart out, David Boies.) Admittedly, this is a far cry from his youthful ambition to play forward for the Knicks. But Gary, forced onto a different kind of court, has already managed to score more victories than the Knicks are likely to achieve in our lifetimes.

By Jed S. Rakoff, U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York



Paul Shechtman

Partner, Bracewell

The legal community knows Paul Shechtman as a brilliant trial lawyer, appellate advocate, scholar, and writer—with good reason.

By Barbara S. Jones, Partner, Bracewell



Randolph Treece

E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy

Picture if you can, a man resplendently attired, regal in appearance, walking down any street in Albany, Troy, or Schenectady, New York, with every passerby yelling out, “Hey Randy,” because he seems to know EVERYONE, and you have visualized the Honorable Randolph F. Treece, affectionately known to all as the “Mayor.”

By Mae D’Agostino, U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of New York 


Theodore Wells Jr.

Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison

For nearly half a century, Ted Wells has been where the action is, courageously standing up for the indigent seeking equal access to justice, preaching the importance of diversity and inclusion, representing Fortune 50 corporations and business and political leaders facing the crucible of prosecutorial force, and fighting for the principles that lie at the bedrock of our democracy.

By Brad S. Karp, Chairman, and Martin Flumenbaum, Partner, at Paul Weiss


Mary Jo White

Partner, Debevoise & Plimpton

Whether taking on terrorists, the mob or white-collar criminals as U.S. Attorney, addressing the major issues raised by the financial crisis as Chair of the SEC or guiding clients through “bet the company” legal crises as a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton, Mary Jo White has blazed a remarkable trail of achievement and she is still outpacing everyone, working 24/7 and leading Debevoise’s strategic crisis response and solutions group.

By Sara Moss, Executive Vice President and GC of The Estée Lauder Companies

Attorney of the Year

This “MVP” award goes to the lawyer who had the most profound effect on the law or legal community in the past year or did the most to advance the cause of justice. Here we feature profiles of the three deserving finalists, and the winner will be announced at a recognition event on Oct 17, 2017.

Evan CheslerEvan Chesler
Evan Chesler, chairman at Cravath Swaine Moore, was lead outside counsel for American Express in litigation brought by the U.S. government alleging its mandatory terms for participating retailers violated antitrust law. This was no ordinary antitrust litigation.


Kevin McDonoughKevin McDonough
In his 12 years of practice, Latham & Watkins partner Kevin McDonough has represented his share of deep-pocketed clients, but has recently spent considerable time tackling an issue that for some epitomizes injustice for poor defendants: the sprawling jail complex at Rikers Island.


Eric WrubelEric Wrubel
Eric Wrubel, a partner at Warshaw Burstein, was part of a team of lawyers last year that successfully argued before the state’s highest court that the definition of parent should be expanded in New York. The landmark decision was a win for same-sex couples around the state, granting non-adoptive, non-biologically related parents visitation rights and custody.

Litigation Department of the Year

The NYLJ honors the top department in general litigation, as well as top specialty practice departments in the fields of intellectual property, finance, class action, insurance and labor and employment. The winning litigation teams each include New York lawyers who had a significant impact on the work submitted to us.

General Litigation: Sullivan & Cromwell

Intellectual Property: Kirkland & Ellis

Finance: Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

Class Action: Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison

Insurance: McKool Smith

Labor & Employment: Jones Day

Distinguished Leaders

This award recognizes attorneys in leadership roles who achieved impressive results in the past year. Others may fly under the radar, but this group of 22 extraordinary lawyers had great performances while demonstrating clear leadership skills that resulted in positive outcomes.

Linda Addison
Immediate Past Managing Partner, Norton Rose Fulbright

Oliver (Ollie) Armas
New York Office Managing Partner, Hogan Lovells

Luise Barrack
Managing Member, Rosenberg & Estis

Molly Boast
Partner, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr

Peter Calamari
Partner, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan

Bertina Capuano
Bronx Borough Chief, Family Court Division, New York City Law Department

Robin Cohen
Principal, McKool Smith

Andrew T. Hahn Sr.
Partner, Duane Morris

Derrelle Janey
Partner, Gottlieb & Janey

Katya Jestin
Partner, Jenner & Block

Deanna L. Kirkpatrick
Partner, Davis Polk & Wardwell

Rebecca Price
ADR Program Director, Southern District of New York

John Rapisardi
Partner, O’Melveny & Myers

Richard Revesz
Director, American Law Institute | Dean Emeritus, New York University School of Law

Josh Rosenkranz
Partner, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe

Hollis Salzman
Assistant Managing Partner and Hiring Partner, New York Office, Robins Kaplan

Ronald Shechtman
Managing Partner, Pryor Cashman

Marissa Soto
Proprietor, Law Offices of Soto & Associates

Richard Spehr
Partner-in-Charge, New York Office, Mayer Brown

Jim Walden
Founding Partner, Walden Macht & Haran

Jonathan Youngwood
Partner, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

Dan Zelenko
Partner, Crowell & Moring

Rising Stars

The New York Law Journal’s Rising Stars awards recognize 30 of the region’s most promising lawyers under 40. The following honorees are acknowledged for their influence in their practice areas in New York and beyond, developing unique practice niches, employing creative uses of technology, amassing robust books of business, demonstrating strong leadership qualities, showing expertise in litigation or transactional work, contributing to the improvement of their institutions, and committing themselves to pro bono, charitable and professional volunteer work.

Stephen BroomeEllen N. ChingJennifer ChuMelanie FigueroaJared R. FriedmannEvandro GiganteMeaghan GraggRajani GuptaLaura HallDamaris HernándezSophia HudsonRandall W. JacksonJaren JanghorbaniKerry JohnsonJonathan KimVincent LevyLauren Helen LeydenAndrew MilanoSaee MuzumdarJoshua NaftalisAndrew ParlenMichael Pikiel Jr.Faiza RahmanDavid SarrattMatthew A. SchwartzMatthew L. SchwartzAlex SpiroBrandon Van DykeLisa VaraMichael Zoppo

GC Impact & In-House Legal Department Awards

In this category, we recognize an in-house lawyer who had a significant accomplishment in the past year, as well as six in-house legal departments for their outstanding work, innovative programs, ingenuity in solving problems and high quality client service over the past year.

GC Impact Award: Deirdre Lok, Assistant Director & General Counsel, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale (pictured at right)

Best Diversity: Citi

Best Technology: IBM Corporation

Best In-House Work: Interpublic

Best Litigation: UBS AG

Best Pro Bono: Marsh & McLennan Companies

Best Outside Counsel Management: Goldman Sachs

Judges of the Professional Excellence Awards

The New York Law Journal gratefully acknowledges the assistance of the following judges for its Professional Excellence Awards.

Attorney of the Year Judges:

Caitlin Halligan, Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
Sheila Boston, Partner, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer
Charles Moerdler, Partner, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan
Mark Zauderer, Partner, Flemming Zulack Williamson Zauderer

Rising Stars Judges:

Salvatore Gogliormella, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
Arthur Siegel, Member, Bond, Schoeneck & King
Mary Eaton, Partner, Willkie Farr & Gallagher
Taa Grays, Vice President & Associate General Counsel, MetLife
David Shanies, Principal, David B Shanies Law Office
Daniel Stanco, Partner, Ropes & Gray
Jennifer Kennedy Park, Partner, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
Robert Maier, Partner, Baker Botts
Renee Phillips, Partner, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe
Frank Torres, Trial Attorney, Duffy & Duffy
Melissa Yang, Associate, Rakower Law
Chantel Febus, Senior Counsel, Proskauer Rose
Alanna Rutherford, Partner, Boies Schiller Flexner
Mauricio España, Partner, Dechert
Elizabeth Cosenza, Associate Professor and Area Chair, Law and Ethics, Fordham Univerity
Judith Livingston, Senior Partner, Kramer, Dillof, Livingston & Moore
Wes Earnhardt, Partner, Cravath, Swaine & Moore
Carmen Pacheco, Founding Partner, Pacheco & Lugo
Elizabeth Edmondson, Partner, Jenner & Block
Perry Cerrato, Deputy Inspector General, New York State Justice Center for the Protection of People With Special Needs
Michael Cardozo, Partner, Proskauer Rose
Lauren Handelsman, Associate, Binder & Schwartz
William Reckler, Partner, Latham & Watkins