WMACCA Corporate Counsel Awards Honor Washington Area Leaders

Friday, December 1, 2006 - 01:00

The Washington Metropolitan Area Corporate Counsel Association (WMACCA), the largest regional bar association for in-house counsel, announced the winners of the Second Annual Corporate Counsel Awards at a ceremony in McLean, VA last month. The awards honor the work of the region's leading in-house counsel over the past year in four categories - Outstanding Chief Legal Officer, Outstanding In-House Counsel, Outstanding Law Department and Community Service. The reception attracted more than 350 people from the legal and business communities.

'WMACCA honors individuals and in-house departments that have demonstrated significant and noteworthy achievements, exemplified remarkable character, ethics and integrity, and elevated the role of in-house counsel in the profession,' said Eric D. Reicin, president of WMACCA, and vice president and associate general counsel at Sallie Mae Inc. 'It is important to our organization to recognize fellow in-house counsel and celebrate their achievements.'

'The finalists and winners exemplify the important contributions that all in-house counsel make to the success of their companies and organizations,' said Manik K. Rath, vice president and general counsel of LMI, and the chair of the Corporate Counsel Awards. 'Congratulations to all of the finalists and winners of the Corporate Counsel Awards.'

The winners of the 2006 WMACCA Corporate Counsel Awards are:

• Outstanding Chief Legal Officer - James C. Fontana, Alion Science & Technology Corporation

• Outstanding In-House Counsel - Sherrese Smith, Washingtonpost. Newsweek Interactive LLC

• Outstanding Law Department - Marriott International Inc.

• Community Service Award - Adam Palmer, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

James C. Fontana, senior vice president, general counsel and secretary of Alion Science & Technology Corporation, was named Outstanding Chief Legal Officer for his efforts in guiding Alion through nine major transactions, for which he served as lead negotiator and principal transaction counsel. In addition, Mr. Fontana also directed and managed Alion's filing of eight bid protests of federal contracts in the past two years, most of which were successful. Fontana also recently completed serving two terms as Chairman of the Board of Easter Seals for the Greater Washington-Baltimore Region.

Sherrese Smith, deputy general counsel of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, was named Outstanding In-House Counsel for the instrumental role she plays in managing the day-to-day legal operations of washington-post.com, newsweek.com, slate.com and budgettravelonline.com.Ms. Smith oversees all business deals, electronic publishing issues, employment and labor issues, content and publication issues, and intellectual property issues for these online publications. She also is very active in civic projects.

The Outstanding Law Department Award went to Marriott International, Inc., for the active steps it takes in providing opportunities for its lawyers to collaborate with the business people they serve. Particularly noteworthy were a database tool implemented by the department in the past year to enable business units to easily access information about executed legal contracts and operating agreements, and a database of information about law firm diversity that was developed in support of the company's and department's goal to promote the use of diverse vendors.

Adam Palmer, director of the office of legal counsel for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, received the Community Service Award, for his numerous projects to protect society from those who use technology for criminal purposes, particularly when the victims are innocent children. Mr. Palmer teaches JAG and other prosecutors about internet crimes against children, and he is working with Harvard Law School and the National District Attorney's Association to develop a model curriculum for law students focused on prosecuting technology crimes.

The awards reception also featured the presentation of a special WMACCA Corporate Counsel Career Achievement Award Award to Stephen A. Bokat, senior vice president, general counsel and secretary of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and a former WMACCA director and former chair of the Association of Corporate Counsel, the parent organization of WMACCA. Mr. Bokat, who will retire at the end of the year, has been chief legal officer of the U.S. Chamber for more than 25 years. Mr. Bokat was recognized for his strong leadership of the Chamber's legal function in its representation of the nation's business interests. He played an instrumental role in the Chamber's challenge to the California fax ban statute, which was overturned in federal court.

The panel of judges for the Corporate Counsel Awards was comprised of: Marian S. Block, vice president and associate general counsel of Lockheed Martin Corp.; Mike Daniels, chairman of the board of Mobile 365; Claudio M. Grossman, dean of Washington College of Law at American University; Mary E. Kennard, vice president and general counsel of American University; Fred Krebs, president of the Association of Corporate Counsel; Michael Lustbader, principal of Arlington Capital Partners; Manik Rath, general counsel and corporate secretary of LMI; Eric D. Reicin, vice president and associate general counsel of Sallie Mae; and Robert A. Stern, senior vice president and general counsel of Sodexho Inc.

A portion of the proceeds from the reception will go to a non-profit foundation that supports the WMACCA Corporate Scholars Program, a diversity pipeline program that provides summer internships in in-house legal departments for students from local law schools.