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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

Litigation Department of the Year (General)

  • Carlson Lynch (Winner)
  • Meyer, Unkovic & Scott (Finalist)

Litigation Departments of the Year (Specialty)

  • Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check (Class Action)
  • Swartz Campbell (Professional Liability)

In-House Impact

  • Chris Ashiotes, Pilot Freight Services
  • Jocelyn Hill, Consolidated Rail Corp. (Conrail)
  • OGC Cheyney University Legal Action Team

Most Innovative Law Firms

  • McNees Wallace & Nurick
  • Pepper Hamilton
  • Reed Smith

Best Law Firm Mentors

  • Joseph Stampone, Stampone O’Brien Dilsheimer Law
  • William A. Kovalcik Jr., O’Connor Law
  • Meredith Slawe, Cozen O’Connor
  • Nancy Shane Rappaport, DLA Piper
  • Ruthanne Gordon, Berger Montague

Power Players

  • Mike Berry, Ballard Spahr
  • Joel Bolstein, Fox Rothschild

Legal Innovators

  • Hannah McPhelin, Pepper Hamilton
  • Joe Kernen and Fahd Riaz, DLA Piper

Unsung Heroes

  • Tyler Marandola and David Wolfsohn, Duane Morris
  • Kathleen Kotula, Pennsylvania Department of State, Office of Chief Counsel
  • Carin O’Donnell, Stark & Stark
  • Deborah Krabbendam, Conrad O’Brien

Most Effective Dealmakers

  • Kristin Wells, Reed Smith
  • Paul Jaskot, Holland & Knight
  • Christopher Thel, Dentons Cohen & Grigsby
  • Deborah Hong, Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young
  • Michael Frattone, Kleinbard

Law Firm of the Year Finalists

  • Cozen O’Connor
  • Pepper Hamilton
  • Reed Smith

Lawyers on the Fast Track

  • Asima Ahmad, Blank Rome
  • Adeolu A. Bakare, McNees Wallace & Nurick
  • Chrissey Barba, Ballard Spahr
  • Julie Berson, Kleinbard
  • Alexander Bowerman, Hogan Lovells
  • Corinne Brennan, Klehr Harrison
  • Stefanie Burt, EQT Corp.
  • Raphael Castro, Law Offices of Eric A. Shore
  • Aurelia Chaudhury, Berger Montague
  • Jillian T. Flax, Cozen O’Connor
  • Julie Goldemberg, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
  • Jennifer Hermansky, Greenberg Traurig
  • Ernest D. Holtzheimer, Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads
  • Cheri R.W. Johnson, Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young
  • Jason A. Levine, Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller
  • Melissa Martinez, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr
  • Katharyn Ivera Christian McGee, Duane Morris
  • Joel Michel, Blank Rome
  • Meera R. Modi, McNees Wallace & Nurick
  • Jennifer A. Santiago, Wapner Newman
  • David Struwe, Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis
  • Kevin Sweeney, Chamberlain Hrdlicka
  • Mark D. Taticchi, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath
  • Dominique Ward, Lincoln Financial Group