Finest General Counsel in America Announced by The Burton Awards Program


April 19, 2016

New York, New York:¬†The Burton Awards Program, held in association with the Library of Congress, and Co-Sponsored by the American Bar Association, announced its “Legends in Law” winners for 2016. The program named ten general counsels as “Legends in Law.” The winners were selected based upon the following criteria: reputation in the legal profession; demonstrated competence in a specialized area of law; extensive background and experience; complexity and scope of matters handled; success in global or national issues; and exemplary leadership in law. The award winners were chosen from nominations received from managing partners of the nation’s 1,000 largest law firms. This year marks the seventeenth anniversary of the Burton Awards program, which will be held on May 23, 2016 at the Library of Congress.

Thomas L. Sager, Partner, Ballard Spahr LLP, and Les Parrette, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Compliance Officer at Novelis Inc., co-chairs of the Legends in Law Committee, stated, “We are fortunate to have selected such outstanding leaders in the legal community. These prominent general counsel are truly worthy of this special recognition.” Lisa Rickard, a member of the Honorary Board of Directors for the Burton Awards, and president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform added “Certainly, this is one of the highest honors a general counsel can achieve in a career. Congratulations to these truly exemplary executives who set the highest professional standards for all others to follow.”

The Burton Awards program rewards the greatest accomplishments in law, including excellence in writing, teaching, journalism, public service, leadership, and exemplary service in the armed forces by lawyers.

This year, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will receive the “Book of the Year Award” for his work, “THE COURT OF THE WORLD: AMERICAN LAW AND THE NEW GLOBAL REALITIES.” During the program, the justice will be interviewed on the impact and far-reaching effects of his book.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will commemorate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Prior to the awards program, a special luncheon will be held for the award-winning general counsels at the Library of Congress. West Virginia Attorney General, Patrick Morrisey, will the guest speaker at lunch. In the evening, a gala is planned and after the dinner the event features a performance by award-winning Broadway star Linda Eder.

The following general counsel will be honored for their exceptional careers in law:

A. Robert D. Bailey
Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary
Allergan PLC
Nominated by White & Case LLP

Timothy B. Phillips
Chief Legal Executive and General Counsel
American Cancer Society, Inc.
Nominated by Ballard Spahr LLP

Timothy A. Pratt
Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer, General Counsel and Secretary
Boston Scientific Corporation
Nominated by Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P.

S. Jack Balagia, Jr.
Vice President and General Counsel
Exxon Mobil Corporation
Nominated by Jackson Walker L.L.P.

Michelle Banks
Executive Vice President, Global General Counsel, Corporate Secretary and Chief Compliance Officer (retired)
Gap Inc.
Committee Designation

Laura Fennell
Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary
Intuit Inc.
Nominated by Cozen O’Connor, P.C.

David M. Shannon
Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer and Secretary
NVIDIA Corporation
Nominated by Sidley Austin LLP

Bjarne Tellmann
Senior Vice President and General Counsel
Pearson PLC
Nominated by Goodwin Proctor LLP

Kenneth S. Siegel 
Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
Committee Designation

Jim Wang
Chief Legal Representative
ZTE [USA] Inc.
Nominated by Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP


The Burton Awards, established in 1999, is funded by the Burton Foundation, a non-profit, academic effort devoted to recognizing and rewarding excellence in the legal profession. The Burton Awards honors the finest accomplishments in law, including writing, reform, public service and interest, regulatory innovation, and lifetime achievements in the profession. The honorary and distinguished members of the Burton Awards Board of Directors include the following leaders in law: Judge Richard Posner, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit; Judge Alex Kozinski, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit; John Cornyn, United States Senator; Robert P. Casey, Jr., United States Senator; Mike Crapo, United States Senator; Thomas L. Sager, Partner, Ballard Spahr LLP; Stephen R. Mysliwiec, Partner, DLA Piper LLP; and Elissa Lichtenstein, Director, Division of Public Services, American Bar Association.


This prominent institution is one of the most celebrated and distinguished libraries in the world. It was established on April 24, 1800, and since that time it has grown to become one of the largest repositories in history. The Library of Congress functions as both a national library and as the research arm of the U.S. Congress. It contains more than 32 million catalogued books and more than 62 million manuscripts.


With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law

WILLIAM C. BURTON, ESQ., Founder and Chair

The Founder and Chair of The Burton Awards for Legal Achievement is William C. Burton, Esq., a partner at the law firm of Sagat|Burton LLP. He is a former New York State Assistant Attorney General, a former New York State Assistant Special Prosecutor, and is the author of the first legal thesaurus ever written for the legal profession, entitled BURTON’S LEGAL THESAURUS. The book is now in its 5th edition and quickly approaching its 35th anniversary. When the book was released, the Association of American Publishers recognized it as “one of the Most Innovative and Creative Projects of the year.” In 2011, Mr. Burton was presented the highest honor given by the second largest association of law professors in America, The Legal Writing Institute, for “significantly advancing the cause of legal writing in the profession of law.” More recently, he was awarded the “Blackstone Award” by the Friends of the Law Library of Congress, for “embodying and promoting the best ideals of the institution.”