WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Washington Metropolitan Area Corporate Counsel Association (WMACCA), the leading regional bar association for in-house counsel in the District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland, last night announced the winners of the 9th Annual Corporate Counsel Awards. The awards honor the work of the region’s leading in-house practitioners and departments over the past year in the categories of Outstanding Chief Legal Officer, Outstanding In-House Counsel, Outstanding Paraprofessional, Outstanding Law Department, and Community Service. Held at the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner in McLean, Va., the awards reception attracted a crowd of more than 350 people from the legal and business communities.
Chosen from a field of 15 finalists, the winners of the 2013 WMACCA Corporate Counsel Awards include:
- Outstanding Chief Legal Officer: Michael Bisignano, senior vice president and general counsel, Blackboard Inc., and Ho Shin, general counsel, chief privacy officer and corporate secretary, Millennial Media, Inc.
- Outstanding In-House Counsel: Buddy Omohundro, senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary, Apex Systems, Inc.
- Outstanding Paraprofessional: Philip Fletcher, legal assistant and contracts administrator, HMSHost Corporation.
- Outstanding Law Department: ACADEMI LLC.
- Community Service Award: Evan Farber, general counsel and corporate secretary, The Advisory Board Company.
Jonathan L. Spear, vice president and deputy general counsel, Verizon Business, received the 2013 Corporate Counsel Career Achievement Award.
“The WMACCA Corporate Counsel Awards shine a spotlight on the outstanding contributions in-house lawyers and departments make to their organizations and communities. This year’s award nominees and recipients exemplify the trusted judgment, business acumen, leadership, and dedication to community of our local in-house lawyers and legal departments,” said Karen M. Litsinger, WMACCA president and interim chief executive officer of Mirixa Corporation.
“Again this year, WMACCA has honored a very talented and accomplished group of local attorneys, paraprofessionals, and in-house legal departments with its 9th Annual Corporate Counsel Awards. We are pleased to recognize all the very deserving finalists and winners in each category,” said Anne L. Milem, vice president and associate general counsel of Sallie Mae, Inc., who is also a WMACCA board member and chair of the Corporate Counsel Awards. “It is wonderful to see the excitement these awards generate among the finalists and winners, and among their friends and colleagues.”
Michael Bisignano, senior vice president and general counsel of Blackboard Inc., was named Outstanding Chief Legal Officer for his successful handling of numerous significant challenges that arose after Blackboard was sold to a private-equity fund in late 2011. These challenges included defending the company against shareholder claims that arose out of the sale, and working with the company’s board of directors on managing the departure of the company’s founder and chief executive officer, and the hiring of his successor.
The co-winner, Ho Shin, general counsel, chief privacy officer and corporate secretary, Millennial Media, Inc., was honored as Outstanding Chief Legal Officer in recognition of his efforts to ensure that the company is deeply involved in helping build and evolve industry standards and government policy regarding consumer privacy relative to mobile advertising. In addition, Mr. Shin led the company through one of 2012’s most successful technology initial public offerings and a follow-on offering, and numerous strategic acquisitions.
Buddy Omohundro, senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary, Apex Systems, Inc., was named Outstanding In-House Counsel in recognition of the number and breadth of initiatives he has undertaken in the past year to improve collaboration between the legal department and the business people at the Richmond-based staffing firm. Mr. Omohundro also successfully completed a two-year negotiation of a complex government contract issue that resulted in a payment of $2.1 million to the company.
Philip Fletcher, legal assistant and contracts administrator, HMSHost Corporation, received the Outstanding Paraprofessional award. Mr. Fletcher was honored for his contributions to the project of selecting and implementing the legal department’s new online contract-management system. The year-long transition from a paper filing system moved 50,000 pages of documents online and made the documents and related data readily accessible to the company’s business and legal staff.
The legal department at ACADEMI LLC was selected as Outstanding Large Law Department for its work in implementing a best-in-class ethics and compliance program at the private security services firm formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide. The department’s overhaul of the company’s anti-corruption and export compliance programs addressed and resolved alleged legacy compliance violations. The department was also cited for its support of two of ACADEMI’s community involvement efforts: the Community Response Initiative, providing security assessments at schools in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings; and security support offered during the Salt Lake City Marathon, just after the Boston Marathon bombing.
Evan Farber, general counsel and corporate secretary, The Advisory Board Company, received the Community Service Award. Mr. Farber was honored for his contributions to the Children’s Law Center, the only legal services organization in the District of Columbia that provides comprehensive representation to children and their families. As co-chair of CLC’s 2012 Helping Children Soar Benefit, Mr. Farber raised a record $750,000 for the organization, and recruited new volunteers to CLC that broadened its base of support. He has also built a pro bono partnership between The Advisory Board Company and CLC, through which employees of the company have donated more than 150 hours of their expertise over the past year in a wide variety of areas.
In addition to the night’s competitive awards, WMACCA honored Jonathan L. Spear, vice president and deputy general counsel of Verizon Business with its Corporate Counsel Career Achievement Award. During Mr. Spear’s two decades at Verizon and its predecessor, MCI, he was part of the team that helped the company become a major player in the federal telecommunications contracting business. He played a major role in successfully defending MCI in 2005 when the U.S. Department of Justice threatened the company with debarment. His work helped ensure the company’s survival. He also provided critical support for MCI’s merger with Verizon in 2006. Mr. Spear is the company’s senior government contracts attorney. He also is a past president of WMACCA and served on its board of directors from 1994-2000.
The finalists were selected from a large pool of nominations submitted by the legal community at-large in response to an open call for nominations. The panel of judges for the Corporate Counsel Awards was comprised of the following leaders in the business and legal communities in this region:
- Daniel F. Attridge, Dean, The Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University
- Michael J. Baxter, President of the Maryland State Bar Association, and Principal, Baxter, Baker, Sidle, Conn & Jones PA
- Mike Daniels, Chairman, GlobalLogic, Inc.
- Andrea C. Ferster, President, D.C. Bar, and Principal, Law Offices of Andrea C. Ferster
- Patricia A. Lenahan, Commercial Team Leader, TD Bank
- Karen M. Litsinger, President of WMACCA, and Interim Chief Executive Officer, Mirixa Corporation
- Sandra Jones McNinch, Immediate Past Chair, Virginia State Bar Corporate Counsel Section, and General Counsel, Virginia Economic Development Partnership
- Anne L. Milem, Chair of the Corporate Counsel Awards, Member of the WMACCA Board of Directors, and VP and Associate General Counsel, Sallie Mae Inc.
- Veta T. Richardson, President and CEO, Association of Corporate Counsel
The Corporate Counsel Awards were created in 2005 and have become a well-recognized and sought-after honor for members of the in-house community in the District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Virginia and suburban Maryland. For a list of all previous Award winners, please visit http://www.acc.com/chapters/wmacca/awards.cfm.
With more than 2,200 members, the Washington Metropolitan Area Corporate Counsel Association (WMACCA) serves the professional needs of in-house counsel in Washington, D.C., suburban Maryland, and Virginia. WMACCA is the regional chapter of the global Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC). WMACCA members participate in more than 80 professional development programs each year and keep connected through a variety of networking events and communications vehicles. WMACCA has been active in regulatory issues that affect the in-house bar, and in providing education to encourage advancements in the standards of corporate legal practice. More information about WMACCA is available on its Web site: http://wmacca.acc.com.