Effective corporate counsel has never been more important than it is now. Arizona Business Magazine is recognizing the important and vital role that in-house counsel plays in the success of a business with the Arizona Corporate Counsel Awards, ACC Awards 2012. The 27 finalists and winners were honored Thursday, January 12 during a ceremony and dinner at the Ritz Carlton Phoenix. Here are the finalists in alphabetical order, H through M.
ACC Awards 2012 Finalists, H through M:
Corporate secretary, general counsel, vice president of governmental relations
American Traffic Solutions
Hittner has overseen more than 150 lawsuits for ATS throughout the country, ranging from minor cases to multi-million-dollar class actions, with a 98 percent win rate since October 2008. Some highlights:
* Under Hittner’s leadership, ATS has never lost a constitutional challenge to one of its programs.
* Hittner led the successful legal strategy which resulted in a decision by the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that found the Akron, Ohio, intersection and speed camera safety ordinance legal and constitutional.
* Hittner’s focus on election law has protected the photo enforcement industry from illegal elections, including having three illegal elections declared invalid.
Executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary
Go Daddy Group
Jones is the leader for all legal affairs at Go Daddy. Go Daddy’s legal department is unique in that it encompasses functions that are not traditionally seen in corporate legal departments. Jones supervises more than 100 people in the legal, domain services, network abuse, and government relations departments. Jones has become and industry leader and activist in addressing Internet abuse, and she created the government relations department at Go Daddy to establish a respected presence and voice in Washington. To keep up to date, Jones enables legal professionals to present in-house continuing legal education programs on a monthly basis.
Sara Lee Keller
Executive vice president and general counsel
Clear Channel Outdoor, Inc. — Americas
Since Keller was hired on Jan. 4, 2011, she has grown the legal department from four attorneys to seven. Issues that were traditionally handled by outside counsel are now handled in-house, resulting is cost savings and better management of external spending. Some opinions of her work:
* “Our legal team at Clear Channel Outdoor is becoming a full-service firm right inside the four walls of the company,” said Joe Bagan, Clear Channel’s COO.
* “This collaboration has improved our overall effectiveness as measured by successful outcomes, more closely managed costs … greater business impact, and improved client satisfaction,” said Ron Cooper, CEO of Clear Channel.
Senior vice president and general counsel
Kevane has been advising and managing the legal affairs for Rural/Metro for more than seven years, the past two as senior vice president and general counsel. His recent accomplishments include managing all legal matters related to:
* The successful close of Rural/Metro’s acquisition by affiliates of the global private equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC.
* The successful acquisition of multiple competitor companies throughout the nation.
* Regulatory matters related to SEC reporting mandates.
* Legal issues and settlement negotiations related to federal and state Medicare and Medicaid audits and compliance matters.
* Contract matters and negotiations surrounding executive departures and hiring.
Vice president and chief litigation counsel — aerospace and transportation systems
Given Honeywell Aerospace’s content on global aircraft, chances are that if an aircraft accident occurs, Honeywell will be involved in litigation and Larson will ultimately become involved. Larson oversees a large, complex and diversified docket, encompassing litigation and arbitration matters throughout the world. Through skillful negotiation, Larson managed to settle a number of significant claims last year alone, saving Honeywell hundreds of millions of dollars, as well as protecting Honeywell’s product reputation and brand. In his 11 years at Honeywell, Larson has had just one trial loss. He accomplished all that while reducing outside counsel spending by almost 50 percent since 2007.
Intellectual property attorney
ASM America INC
Colleagues admire Libengood for his unselfish community service. “I have been in the legal field for more than 40 years and as an in-house attorney for more than 15 years,” said Gary A. Smith, general counsel for Phoenix Engineering Services in Mesa. “Rarely have I seen a relative newcomer to the law become so enthusiastically involved in the community.” Libengood became a member of the Mesa Family YMCA, offering his assistance as the organization transitioned from a fitness facility to a service organization supporting a low-income population. He also volunteers with the Mesa United Way Volunteer Income Tax Preparation Program.
General counsel and corporate secretary
Barrett-Jackson Auction Co., LLC
Llewellyn has been general counsel at Barrett-Jackson since 2005. In this role, she is responsible for managing all the company’s legal affairs and overseeing outside counsel relationships. She serves as corporate secretary and works closely with other members of the senior management team on establishing and implementing company policies and procedures as they apply to employees, customers, and external business partners. She also serves as the primary liaison to the company’s media partners, including Fox’s SPEED Channel, which broadcasts more than 100 live hours of Barrett-Jackson events each year to more than 80 million homes.
Matthew D. Mitchell
Vice president legal, associate general counsel
Mitchell’s original responsibilities for Apollo — one of the largest employers in Arizona — were limited to the employment area, but he has since taken on litigation and regulatory responsibilities. Some highlights:
* He has been instrumental in implementing standard processes for the engagement of outside counsel (including outside counsel guidelines and electronic billing), e-discovery and litigation holds, Apollo board litigation updates specific to both the company and the for-profit education industry, and litigation tracking.
* Has assumed responsibility for securities litigation, derivative actions, wage hour class actions, qui tam litigation, and consumer litigation.
Vice president and general counsel
Since assuming the role of aerospace general counsel in 2005, Mountcastle-Walsh has forged a successful vision for the Honeywell Aerospace, Law, Contracts and Export (LC&E) function. Some highlights:
* Developed policies, procedures and best practices to streamline functionalization and reduce total expenses by more than 35 percent.
* Consistently strives to upgrade talent in her 400-person department through hiring efforts, and through a training, mentoring and a development process.
* Enabled growth at Honeywell through the development of its patent portfolio and IP licensing.
* Proactive litigation management has helped reduce Honeywell’s spending on outside counsel by more than 50 percent.