The Texas General Counsel Forum was formed in 1998 in Dallas as The DFW General Counsel's Management Practices Forum. With a statewide expansion in 1999, the organization became known at The Texas General Counsel Forum.
The Forum's mission is to facilitate communication and information sharing of best practices for legal department management among general counsel and outside counsel and for effective communication between the legal department and the executive department.
Sponsors of this year's Conference included Huron Consulting Group; Jones Day; Andrews Kurth LLP; Fulbright & Jaworski LL; Cox Smith Matthews; Lloyd Gosselink; MS Legal Search; Fios; Set Depo; Greenberg Traurig, and DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary.
At its Eighth Annual Conference of General Counsel on November 9-10 in San Antonio, the Forum honored eight corporate counsel with the organization's first annual Magna Stella Awards.
The awards were created in 2006 to recognize excellence in in-house counsel leadership. The name Magna Stellais Latin for 'great stars.'
The awards were presented in eight categories:
Small Legal Department Magna Stella Award was presented to Edwin J. Buckingham III, Solvay America, Inc. Other nominees in this category were Steven L. Scheinthal, Landry's Restaurants, Inc., and H. Suzanne Thomas, Houston Texans and the McNair Group.
Large Legal Department Magna Stella Award was presented to Catherine A. Lamboley, Shell Oil Company. Other nominees in this category were William L. Deckelman Jr., Affiliated Computer Services, Inc, and Rick L. Wittenbraker, Waste Management.
Nonprofit or Government Agency Magna Stella Award was presented to Robert Dan Fontaine, The Texas University M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Other nominees in this category were Joel Don Ballard, Texas Workforce Commission, and David Allen Smith, City of Austin.
Major Transaction Magna Stella Award was presented to Mr. Scheinthal. Other nominees in this category were Kerry R. Brittain, Harvest Natural Resources, Inc., and Mr. Fontaine.
Major Litigation Magna Stella Award was presented to Sylvia J. Kerrigan, Marathon Oil Corporation. Other nominees in this category were Alexander C. Juden, Slumberger Limited, and Elizabeth C. Ozmun, Advance Micro Devices.
Innovative Management Magna Stella Award was presented to Jeffrey W. Carr, FMC Technologies, Inc. Other nominees in this category were Barbara A. McAninch, Snelling Services, LLC, and Charlene A. Ripley, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation.
Up & Comer Magna Stella Award was presented to Kimberley S. Bowers, Valero Energy Corporation. Other nominees in this category were Anthony R. Falisi, Examination Management Services, Inc., and Kevin M. McDonald, Cooper Industries.
Best General Counsel Magna Stella Award was presented to Stephen F. Gates, ConocoPhillips. Other nominees in this category were Craig B. Glidden, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, L.P., and Ms. Ripley.
The Forum conducted a statewide search for judges who would understand the in-house practice of law and be able to separate the best from the very good. This search resulted in a panel of judges that included Mike Godfrey, general counsel for the Texas A&M University System; Allen Lackey, retired general counsel of Shell Oil Company; Charles Lotter, retired general counsel of J.C. Penney Company; Keith McDole, former general counsel of Occidental Chemical Company anda partner at Jones Day; and Anne McNamara, retired general counsel of AMR Corporation and its subsidiary, American Airlines. These judges reviewed submissions from more than 150 nominees.
All of the nominees also were honored in the Forum's first Magna Stella Awards commemorative book. Each nominee was covered in two pages of biographical information about the candidate and information about his or her company or organization.
Underwriters who provided support for the publication of the commemorative book included Beirne Maynard & Parsons LLP, ConocoPhillips, Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P., Harvest Natural Resources, Inc., Haynes and Boone, LLP, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Vinson & Elkins, Williams Morgan & Amerson, and Wong, Cabello, Lutsch, Rutherford & Brucculeri, L.L.P.
In addition to providing financial support, several of the underwriters nominated one or more of the 2006 Magna Stella nominees.