Effective corporate counsel has never been more important than it is in today’s new economy. Az 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). The finalists and winners were honored Thursday, January 16, 2014 during a ceremony at the Ritz Carlton Phoenix. Here are the winners:
Public Company of the Year
Vice president, general counsel, secretary
Sherman joined Taylor Morrison as vice president and general counsel in June 2009 and helped the home builder launch a successful IPO in 2013. He is responsible for the company’s legal affairs including transactions, governance, litigation and regulatory matters. Prior to joining Taylor Morrison, Sherman was general counsel at Centex for four years in the Southwest and Mountain States Regions and associate general counsel at Del Webb/Pulte for five years. Prior to joining the homebuilding industry, he was a finance and real estate attorney at the law firm of Snell & Wilmer in its Phoenix office.
Public Company of the Year
Randall S. Theisen
Executive vice president, general counsel, assistant secretary
Western Alliance Bancorporation
Theisen has served as general counsel of Western Alliance Bancorporation and its three bank affiliates includes Alliance Bank of Arizona, BankWest of Nevada and Torrey Pines Bank since February 2006. Theisen joined WAL from Squire Sanders & Dempsey and has more than 20 years of legal experience representing financial institutions in banking, corporate and financial services law. He was named a “Leading Lawyer 2006” and “Best of the Bar 2005.” He serves on the Business Law Committee and Consumer Financial Services Committee for the American Bar Association. He is also a member of the Arizona Bankers Association.
Private Company of the Year
W.L. Gore & Associates Inc.
Harrison has served as one of the corporate counsel at Gore for nearly nine years. She leads the medical device manufacturer’s product liability litigation and counseling practice globally. For much of her tenure at Gore, Harrison also led strategic counseling and litigation in the area of non-competes and trade for Gore’s Medical Products Division and provided extensive employment law counseling and litigation management for sales associates in the division. Harrison also assumed a significant leadership role in developing and implementing an innovative integration program for new legal team members to effectively facilitate their participation in the company’s global legal team.
John M. Pons
Executive vice president and general counsel
Cole Real Estate Investments, Inc.
Pons has been instrumental in guiding the legal department at Cole in supporting the company’s overall mission in the acquisition, management and disposition of real property. The company has seen tremendous growth, listed on the NYSE and has lined itself up for a merger/acquisition that is poised to make it one of the 15 largest REITs in the United States. Pons’ demeanor and guidance has helped make Cole’s legal department high-functioning, highly collaborative and highly-engaged. Before attending law school, Pons was a captain in the United States Air Force where he served from 1988 until 1992.
Non-Profit Company of the Year
Vice president and associate general counsel
Stockslage is the senior legal leader for Dignity Health’s Arizona and Nevada service areas, which includes six hospitals — including the world-renowned Barrow Neurological Institute — and more than 40 affiliated outpatient sites. As one of three regional legal leaders reporting to Dignity’s general counsel, Stockslage supervises a staff of 11 and is the lead attorney for joint venture transactions and relationships across the Dignity system. He has helped implement a restructuring of the Dignity legal department, its work flows, reporting relationships and client accountabilities to facilitate Dignity’s implementation of healthcare reforms and to accommodate its growth strategy to become a national healthcare provider.
Up & Comer of the Year
Senior counsel, labor and employment
Pinnacle West Capital Corp.
Mason is a strategic partner helping his internal clients solve legal problems in a changing industry. Mason transitioned two years ago as a shareholder at a large national firm, Greenberg Traurig, to a role with Pinnacle West. Mason often works to build consensus with various teams to reduce the threat of litigation. He challenges external counsel to be creative but cognizant of the costs of litigation. Mason served as the young lawyer representative to the State Bar Board of Governors for several years and currently sits on the Executive Council for the Labor and Employment Section for the Arizona State Bar.
Private Legal Department of the Year
GoDaddy in-house legal department
GoDaddy’s legal team is led by General Counsel and Corporate Secretary Nima Kelly. GoDaddy’s 13-lawyer legal team counsels this rapidly-growing Internet company as it accomplishes its mission of empowering its customers to easily start, confidently grow and successfully run their own ventures. GoDaddy currently serves more than 12 million paying customers worldwide with 4,300 employees working in 21 states and eight countries. Under Ms. Kelly’s leadership, GoDaddy’s legal department has been re-engineered to efficiently deliver high-quality legal advice at the pace needed to keep up with its business partners. Divided into Intellectual Property, M&A/International, Litigation/Employment, Agreements and Internet Policy functions, its lawyers work as a cohesive team and are encouraged to “roll up their sleeves,” become intimately involved with their clients’ day-to-day activities and help them accomplish their business goals. Issues range from the serious (patent litigation and international expansion) to the sublime (the Super Bowl ads and talent agreements with Kid Rock, Snoop Dogg and Ke$ha for the annual blowout Holiday Parties). The team also works to develop effective and responsible Internet policy for GoDaddy and the global online community.
General Counsel of the Year
Senior vice president and general counsel
Lewin leads Avnet’s 98-member global legal department and provides advice and guidance to the company’s business leaders. “Erin has demonstrated her ability to effectively guide a global team that deals with a complex, multinational legal environment while serving as a leader who fosters collaboration and employee engagement for her team,” said Avnet CEO Rick Hamada. In 2013, Lewin’s team oversaw the legal aspects of 12 acquisitions with a combined deal value of $367 million and combined revenue value of $1.2 billion, as well as the divestiture of two subsidiaries.
IP Attorney of the Year
Oseran has worked in the information technology and legal fields for more than a decade, ensuring legal compliance, designing network infrastrcuture and managing large project teams. He also enforced information technology laws on behalf of the 5th largest District Attorney’s office in the country, and prosecuted the first state level case of Internet anti-piracy in the United States. Oseran advises business units on developing privacy-protective products, campaigns, websites and other programs. He also manage internal tools to report compliance and communicate policies. Before moving to eBay, Oseran led Paypal’s innovation and continuous improvement of the IT control framework, including the integration of multiple compliance requirements.
Public Legal Department of the Year
Sprouts Farmers Market, Inc.
The natural and organic grocery chain hired its first in-house counsel, Brandon Lombardi, in January 2012 and he set about assembling an in-house legal department that could provide the needed legal services with the quality, acumen, and responsiveness that he and his fast-paced client demanded. Sprouts’ recent success, including the IPO which was shepherded from commencement to completion by Lombardi and his team, serves as a model for how to aggressively yet responsibly build a business. That success could not have been achieved without Sprouts’ legal department. That this 10-person team did not exist two years ago makes their accomplishments even more impressive.
Litigator of the Year
Senior associate counsel, labor and employment/litigation
Insight Enterprises, Inc.
Walker is the sole litigator and labor and employment lawyer for Insight in the United States and Canada. Insight is a Fortune 500 company that provides hardware, software and related services to business and government agencies. Walker is “stunningly successful” at preventing, resolving, and promptly defending claims that go through litigation in labor and employment, commercial matters and in actions brought by government agencies according to Mark Rogers, association general counsel for Insight. Walker has also been able to reduce spending on several categories of work. “Above all, (he) is a practical problem solver and has excellent business judgment,” Rogers said.