The Legal Intelligencer is pleased to announce the 2020 Professional Excellence Award winners. We are delighted to highlight the great work and achievements across the full breadth of the Pennsylvania legal community.

The Legal Intelligencer Professional Excellence honorees will be recognized in special editorial sections and at an awards dinner set for Sept. 9 at the Crystal Tea Room in Philadelphia. Click here for booking information.

Attorney of the Year Finalists

  • Emily Baker-White, Plain View Project—While working for the Federal Community Defender Office in Philadelphia and investigating a police brutality claim, Baker-White came up with the idea for the Plain View Project in 2017⁠. Baker-White led a team of attorneys in an analysis of bigoted social media posts made by police officers in eight jurisdictions across the country, including Philadelphia. Last June, in conjunction with nonprofit multimedia journalism organization Injustice Watch and BuzzFeed, the Plain View Project released its findings: thousands of Facebook posts and comments made by current and retired police officers that contained problematic content ranging from racism, misogyny and Islamophobia to condoning or encouraging excessive force. The release of the report led several of the departments mentioned in the report to take action against offending officers, including the Philadelphia Police Department, which put 72 officers on administrative duty and ultimately terminated 13.
  • Tom Kline, Kline & Specter—In October, amid a string of other courtroom victories throughout 2019, Kline, representing the plaintiff in the first punitive damages trial over Johnson & Johnson’s conduct in marketing the antispychotic drug Risperdal, told a Philadelphia jury during his closing argument to “send a message” to the defendant. Less than five hours later, the jury responded by returning a record-setting $8 billion verdict. According to a review of The Legal’s archives, the award is the largest verdict since at least 1994, when The Legal began tracking each year’s largest verdict and settlement.
  • Brian McMonagle, McMonagle Perri—In 2019, McMonagle was involved in several high-profile matters, including representing indicted Philadelphia City Councilman Bobby Henon in a federal bribery case and defending Amtrak conductor Brandon Bostian against state criminal charges over the 2015 train derailment near Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood. But perhaps the most widely publicized and closely watched case McMonagle handled in 2019 was that of multiplatinum hip-hop artist Meek Mill, whose legal battle first made national headlines in November 2017, when Philadelphia trial judge Genece Brinkley sentenced him to two-to-four years in prison for a probation violation, even though neither prosecutors nor his probation officer sought jail time. McMonagle was a key member of the legal team that, last July, successfully argued to the state Superior Court to grant the rapper a new trial and remove Brinkley from the case. A month later, Meek Mill went free after agreeing to plead guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor offense of carrying a firearm.

Distinguished Leaders

  • Robert Abramowitz, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
  • Erik Williams, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr
  • Alan H. Zuckerman, Flaster Greenberg
  • Shauna Itri, Seeger Weiss
  • Martin Black, Dechert
  • Gary Samms, Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel

Lifetime Achievement

  • Paul Rosen, Spector Gadon Rosen Vinci
  • Marilou Watson, Fox Rothschild
  • Bernard Lee, Cozen O’Connor
  • Alan Feldman, Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock Dodig
  • Howard Scher, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney
  • Philip Karter, Chamberlain Hrdlicka
  • H. Amos Goodall, Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak
  • Ronald Levine, Post & Schell
  • Dave Pusateri, McGuireWoods
  • Teresa Ficken Sachs, Counsel to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Litigation Departments

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