The Legal Intelligencer is pleased to announce the 2023 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. At this time, we are planning to honor the winners at an awards dinner set for June 14, 2023, at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel.

You can view more information about the awards dinner here. For information on how to book tickets and sponsorships, please contact Andre Sutton at 757-721-9020 or email [email protected].

Attorney of the Year Finalists

David Axelrod, Ballard Spahr—When former Alaska governor and one-time vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin filed a lawsuit against the New York Times that threatened landmark U.S. Supreme Court precedent on First Amendment protections, the Gray Lady turned to Ballard Spahr’s Axelrod for its defense. The lawsuit caught headlines around the world in light of comments from two U.S. Supreme Court justices who urged that the decades-old precedent for establishing actual malice in libel cases be revisited. However, led by Axelrod and his team, the 10-day trial ended with not only a defense win from the jury, but also a ruling from the judge dismissing the case while deliberations were ongoing.

Jeff Goodman, Saltz Mongeluzzi—Recovering more than a billion dollars in a personal injury litigation is extremely rare, but doing so while also receiving judicial notice of your hard work in the case is all the more noteworthy. Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky’s Goodman did just that in the litigation surrounding the 2021 fatal collapse of a condo building in Surfside, Florida in which 98 people were killed and hundreds more left homeless. Assembling the teams of experts to determine the cause of the collapse, Goodman played a key role managing the site, as well as taking depositions and spearheading the complex negotiations. While the litigation ended in a global settlement of $1.2 billion—the largest single-event settlement in U.S. history— it also ended with the judge entering a docket order specifically commending Goodman for his work in the litigation.

Terry Mutchler, Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel—Obermayer’s Mutchler knows Pennsylvania’s Open Records law, in fact she created the state agency charged with enforcing it. That expertise was key in helping to secure oversight over the multibillion-dollar Public School Employees’ Retirement System, and set important precedent for board-member access to company records along the way. Facing a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into allegedly inaccurate performance figures and problematic real estate investments, PSERS, which administers a more than $64 billion pension plan for retired school employees, was stonewalling one of its board members, Sen. Katie Muth, D-Montgomery, who was seeking access to the fund’s records. In a win for Muth, Mutchler obtained a precedential Commonwealth Court ruling in what is likely the first instance where a board member had to sue their own company to obtain records.

Distinguished Leaders

  • Robert Nicholas, Reed Smith
  • Wendy West-Feinstein, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
  • Stephanie Peet, Jackson Lewis
  • Amy Kline, Saul Ewing
  • George Overton, Judge, Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas
  • David Forti, Dechert
  • Grant Palmer, Blank Rome
  • David Joseph, Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young
  • Eric Cramer, Berger Montague
  • Alva Mather, McDermott Will & Emery
  • Natalie Ramsey, Robinson & Cole

Lifetime Achievement

  • Sherrie Savett, Berger Montague
  • Lisa Duda, Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young
  • Terry Fromson, Women’s Law Project
  • James Barnes, Blank Rome
  • Thomas Decker, Cozen O’Connor
  • Jack McGinley, Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott
  • Jon Ostroff, Ostroff Injury Law
  • David Rosenberg, Weber Gallagher Simpson Stapleton Fires & Newby
  • Edwin Dashevsky, Dashevsky, Horwitz, Kuhn, Novello & Shorr

Litigation Departments

Litigation Department of the Year (General)

  • Swartz Campbell

Litigation Departments of the Year (Specialty)

  • Winner: Kessler Topaz
  • Finalist: Hausfeld

GC Impact

  • Ada Okafor, American Board of Surgery
  • John Gregory, Streamlight

Law Firms Innovators

  • Dave Cohen, Reed Smith
  • Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders
  • Helene Jaron, Cozen O’Connor
  • Dayna Finkelstein, Blank Rome
  • LeVan Stapleton Segal Cochran
  • Loutel

Best Law Firm Mentors

  • Nina Gussack, Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders
  • Russell Ober, Meyer, Unkovic & Scott
  • Rachael Pritzker, Pritzker Law Group
  • Dena Calo, Saul Ewing
  • Mena Larmour, Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young
  • Sara Begley, Holland & Knight
  • Matthew Johnson, Jones Day
  • Michelle Mantine, Reed Smith
  • Richard Scheff, Armstrong Teasdale

Power Players

  • Charles Hayden, Philadelphia Municipal Court judge
  • Allison Borgatti, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney
  • Jasmeet Ahuja, Hogan Lovells
  • Scott Reidenbach, Reidenbach and Associates
  • Chase Brockstedt, Baird Mandalas Brockstedt Federico & Cardea
  • Dean Krishna, Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young
  • Reginald Streater, Berger Montague
  • Shauna Itri, Seeger Weiss

Unsung Heroes

  • Abbie Newman, Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center
  • Mark Bergstrom, Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing
  • Matthew Divelbiss, Jones Day
  • Peter Johnson, Superior Court of Pennsylvania
  • Samantha Chugh, Reed Smith
  • Pamela Dorian, Cozen O’Connor
  • Daniel Schwarz, Schwarz & Schwarz
  • Eileen Hurley, The Law Office of Eileen J. Hurley
  • Alison Kehner, DTO Law
  • Holly Deihl, SWMW Law
  • Jonathan DeSantis, Walden Macht & Haran

Most Effective Dealmakers

  • Aaron Suh, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
  • Rebecca Guzman, Duane Morris
  • Matthew Mohn, Reed Smith
  • Jennifer Minter, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney
  • Christopher Rosenbleeth, Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young
  • Megan Thompson, Herrick Feinstein

Diversity Initiative

  • Flaster Greenberg
  • Camille Fundora Rodriguez, Berger Montague
  • Sunu Pillai, Saul Ewing
  • Jacques Moye, Clark Hill
  • Leigh Skipper, Duane Morris
  • Fox Rothschild
  • Krystal Kane, Blank Rome


  • Nichole Shustack, McDermott Will & Emery
  • Reed Smith
  • Yelena Barychev, Blank Rome
  • Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
  • Holland and Knight

Law Firm of the Year Finalists

  • Jones Day
  • Blank Rome
  • Berger Montague

Lawyers on the Fast Track

  • Adesola Adegbesan, PECO
  • Linda Ann Bartosch, Dechert
  • Brian Boyle, DLA Piper
  • John Coyle, McEldrew Purtell
  • Mark B. DeSanto, Sauder Schelkopf
  • Leah M. Edelstein, Wapner Newman
  • Kaan Ekiner, Cozen O’Connor
  • Adam Filbert, Spector Gadon Rosen Vinci
  • Jordan L. Fischer, Octillo Law
  • Katherine M. Fix, Robinson & Cole
  • Benjamin Hantz, McGuire Woods
  • Shawn A. Hendricks, Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young
  • Najah A. Jacobs, Berger Montague
  • Benjamin Jacobs, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
  • Peter Keays, Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller
  • Terrence M. Kerwin, Fox Rothschild
  • Susan Kessler, Jones Day
  • Kimberly W. Klayman, Ballard Spahr
  • Ashley Lynam, Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads
  • Alex Mahfood, Reed Smith
  • Christina Manfredi Mckinley, Babst, Calland, Clements and Zomnir
  • Leah Mintz, Duane Morris
  • Megan Moyer, Saul Ewing
  • Oderah Nwaeze, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath
  • Michael Tang, Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young
  • Franca Tavella, Kleinbard
  • Ashley Turner, McCarter & English
  • Jana Volante Walshak, Fox Rothschild
  • James Yoakum, Kleinbard


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