It was an evening of celebration in Washington, DC last night as leading lawyers and firms from across the globe joined together at the W Hotel to celebrate each others’ triumphs at the second annual Who’s Who Legal awards ceremony.
Highlights of the evening include the announcement of Theodore Garrett of Covington & Burling as the first recipient of our Lifetime Achievement Award for his environmental law practice, while DLA Piper was named Pro Bono Firm of the Year. Overall winner of the night was Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which walked away with six awards including Firm of the Year.
The night began with a champagne reception where guests had the opportunity to mix with fellow practitioners and clients. Following this, guests were invited into the Great Room for the main event: the unveiling of this year’s award winners.
Who’s Who Legal’s editor Tom Barnes welcomed guests and shed light on the research method behind the awards. For each practice area, WWL’s researchers spend months collecting hundreds of thousands of recommendations from private practitioners and in-house counsel; without the integrity of those canvassed, and their willingness to acknowledge the professional abilities of their competitors, it would not be possible to produce the books. “Tonight’s winners are not picked at our discretion,” he explained. “They are those lawyers and firms most widely recognised for their achievements by the global legal market.” The evening’s host, Sebastian O’Meara – editor in chief at Law Business Research, publisher of Who’s Who Legal – then commenced presentation of the 2015 Who ’s Who Legal Awards.
The ceremony began with awards for the leading firms in each practice area: those garnering the highest number of nominations in our research. Bird & Bird stood out in this section, achieving four awards, for life sciences: patent litigation; patents; sports; and TMT. It was closely followed by Clifford Chance, which picked up awards for banking, capital markets and project finance; and DLA Piper, named Firm of the Year for entertainment, franchise and real estate. Compass Lexecon was recognised for its leading competition economics practice, whilst FTI Consulting was recognised for its expertise in arbitration: they received, respectively, our inaugural awards for Competition Economics Firm and Arbitration Experts Firm of the Year.
Following this, DLA Piper’s US pro bono partner Elizabeth Dewey took to the stage to accept the Pro Bono Award, the result coming from WWL’s second annual pro bono survey. Dewey introduced a video put together by the firm featuring Eric Greene, a veteran and DLA Piper pro bono client.
The second portion of the night began with awards for Lawyer of the Year. Bernard Wolfsdorf of Wolfsdorf Rosenthal received his sixth corporate immigration award – a feat matched by David Asmus of Morgan Lewis & Bockius, who notched up a sixth win for his energy practice. Several lawyers took home an award for the first time, including Cynthia Urda Kassis of Shearman & Sterling, named our Project Finance Lawyer of the Year, and insolvency and restructuring expert Evan Flaschen of Bracewell & Giuliani.
Our first Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Theodore Garrett of Covington & Burling in recognition of his outstanding accomplishments to date and contribution to the legal sector. Commenting on the award, Tom Barnes said, “We have been running our awards since 2005, and in that time only a very small group of elite lawyers have led the research in their fields in every year. Ted Garrett garnered more votes than any other lawyer for 10 consecutive years, and his peers were unanimous in their appreciation of his market-leading practice. He exemplifies the dedication and commitment of lawyers to not just their clients but also to shaping laws and regulations.” Garrett took to the stage to thank Who’s Who Legal and shed light on his career in environmental law; an area he was first drawn to in the early 1970s at the dawn of US regulation. Looking to the future of the practice area, he feels it’s an “exciting time to be an environmental lawyer”.
Following this, the country awards recognised firms achieving the highest number of nominations in a particular jurisdiction across our research. Marval O’Farrell & Mairal won its tenth Argentina Law Firm of the Year award, while Maples and Calder took home the Cayman Islands award. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer was found to be the leading law firm in England (its seventh win) and Germany (its fourth win), while Sidley Austin took the award for the USA.
The evening ended with the announcement of 2015’s Firm of the Year, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer – marking a ninth win for the firm. “The award stands as a testament to the firm’s dominance of the global legal market,” said Tom Barnes.
Who’s Who Legal would like to thank all those who attended the event as well as our sponsors Compass Lexecon. As in previous years, the event contributes towards Law Business Research’s support of the Swawou School in Kenema, Sierra Leone, which provides a free and quality education to disadvantaged girls.