Burton Awards for Legal Achievement

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Burton Awards
Awarded for Outstanding accomplishments in law
Country USA
Presented by Burton Foundation, In association with the Library of Congress
First awarded 1999-present
Official website http://www.burtonawards.com/

The Burton Awards program is designed to reward major achievements in the law ranging from literary awards to the greatest reform in law. The awards are selected, generally, by professors from Harvard Law School, the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and the University of Michigan Law School, and a judge, among others. Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Judge Carol Corrigan of the Supreme Court of California are honorary members on the board of directors.

Each year, thirty Legal Writing Award winners are chosen from partners at the largest law firms in the nation. Fifteen Law School Awards are also given out. Five other Burton Awards are presented annually which include the "Book of the Year Award," "Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education Award," "ALA Prominent Publication Awards," and the "Morrison & Foerster Regulatory Innovation Award."

The award ceremonies are annually held at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. Prominent officials who have been guest speakers at the event have included Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice John Paul Stevens (retired). In the past, other well-known dignitaries have participated in the program including Tom Brokaw, Bob Schieffer, Tim Russert, Chris Matthews, George Will and master of ceremonies, Bill Press.

The Burton Foundation is a nonprofit cultural and academic organization devoted to further promoting the stature of the legal profession.


William C. Burton, Esq.[1] Founder & Chairman

The creator of The Burton Awards is William C. Burton, a partner in the law firm of Sagat/Burton LLP [2] in New York City. He is a former New York State Assistant Attorney General, former New York State Assistant Special Prosecutor, and has written the authoritative reference book, BURTON'S LEGAL THESAURUS, (4th edition), published by McGraw-Hill.

Award Categories[edit]


  • Distinguished Writing Awards- Category of Law Firms [4] Presented to the best law firm authors of articles dealing with legal issues published in the previous year.
  • Distinguished Writing Awards- Category of Law Schools [5] Presented to the best law school authors of articles dealing with legal issues published in the previous year.
  • Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education Award [6] Presented for outstanding contributions to the education of new lawyers in the field of legal analysis, research and writing, whether through teaching, program design, program support, innovative thinking or writing.
  • ALA Publication Awards [7]
  • Best Law Firm Publication: This award is given for the best law firm publication, whether a periodical or otherwise, that is not a newsletter or a firm profile. It is an omnibus category which judges the presentation of the material, the breath and extensiveness of the analysis, and, and the effectiveness of writing.
  • Best Law Firm Compendium:This award honors an in-depth comprehensive analysis of the law on a subject. The judging criteria include clarity, ease of reference, and writing expertise.
  • Best Firm Profile: The award is given to the best written, finest designed, and most effective promotional brochure about a firm.
  • Best Law Firm Newsletter: This award is given for the finest written, most interesting, and best designed law firm newsletter.
  • Best Law Firm Advertisement: This category was judged for its design, message and effectiveness in relating a message
  • The Legends in Law Awards [8]* Category of General Counsel This selection is made on the following criteria: reputation in both the legal profession and as a proven authority in a specialized area of law; background and experience; complexity and scope of matters handled; global or national importance of issues confronted and proven and exemplary leadership in law.
  • Book of the Year Award Presented to the authors of the most outstanding book in the profession of law.
  • The Morrison and Foerster Regulatory Innovation Award [9] This award honors an academic or public official whose innovative ideas have made a significant contribution to the discourse on regulatory reform in the arena of corporate governance, securities, capital markets or financial institutions.

Selection Process[edit]

The quality and number of submissions by law firms and law schools is extremely competitive. Award recipients are selected from nominations by deans of all of the law schools in America, as well as from nominations by managing partners of the 1000 largest U.S. law firms.[10]

Honorary Board of Directors[edit]


William C. Burton, Partner at Sagat|Burton LLP; Judge Richard Posner, US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit; Judge Alex Kozinski, US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit; Justice Carol A. Corrigan, Supreme Court of California; Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye, NYS Court of Appeals, Retired; Dennis Smith, Former Senator and Member of the Judiciary Committee, Missouri Legislature; Senator John Cornyn, United States Senator for Texas; Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr., United States Senator from Pennsylvania; Senator Mike Crapo, United States Senator from Idaho; Senator Michael Bennett, United States Senator from Colorado; Spencer Bachus, United States Congressman from Alabama; Thomas L. Sager, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of E.I. Du Pont De Nemours and Company; Les Parrette, General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Novelis Inc.; Sabine Curto, Director of Administration, Jenner & Block LLP; Stephen R. Mysliwiec, Partner at DLA Piper; Nancy Schultz, Representative of the Association of Legal Writing Directors

Academic Committee[edit]

Virginia Wise, Esq. Chair; Anne E. Kringel, Esq., Vise Chair; Grace Tonner, Esq.; Judge Edward Forstenzer; William Ryan; William C. Burton Ex-Officio

Summary of 2012 event[edit]

[12] [13]

The 2012 event was held at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. on June 11, 2012. James M. Rishwain, Jr., Firm Chair and CEO of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, was Dinner Chair. Bill Press was the Master of Ceremonies.

National Award winners: The Book of the Year in Law: Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens (retired); Morrison & Foerster Regulatory Innovation Award: Cass Sunstein, Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the White House Office of Management and Budget; Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education Award: Professor Tina L. Stark, Boston University School of Law

Legends in Law' winners: Les Parrette, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Compliance Officer of Novelis Inc., nominated by Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP; Marschall I. Smith, Senior Vice President, Legal Affairs and General Counsel, 3M Company, nominated by Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P.; Maria Pasquale, Senior Vice President, Legal and Deputy General Counsel, Celgene Corporation, nominated by Morrison & Foerster LLP; Susan L. Blount, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Prudential Financial, Inc., nominated by Dickstein Shapiro LLP; James M. Strother, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Wells Fargo & Company, nominated by Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP; Amy Schulman, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Pfizer Inc., nominated by Kaye Scholer LLP

Law Firm winners: Bowman and Brooke LLP; Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione; Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney P.C.; Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP; Covington & Burling LLP; Davis Polk & Wardell LLP; DLA Piper LLP (US); Faegre Baker Daniels LLP; Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP; Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP; Haynes and Boone, LLP; Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP; Hunton & Williams LLP; Jenner & Block; Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP; King & Spalding LLP; Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP; Linklaters LLP; Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand, LLP; Miller Canfield P.L.C.; Morrison & Foerster LLP; O'Melveny & Meyers LLP; Paul Hastings LLP; Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pitman LLP; Proskauer Rose LLP; Ropes & Gray LLP; Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P.; Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP; Steptoe & Johnson LLP; Sullivan & Cromwell LLP; Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP; White & Case LLP; Winston & Strawn LLP

Association of Legal Administrators, National Publication Award winners: Best Law Firm Encyclopedic Handbook: Bailey Cavalieri LLC, Dan A. Bailey; Best Law Firm Advertisement: Morrison & Foerster LLP, Anna T. Pinedo and James R. Tanenbaum; Best Law Firm Compendium: Kaye Scholer LLP, Claudia R. Higgins, Sebastian Jungermann, Saul P. Morgenstern, Gregory J. Wallance, Jennifer B. Patterson,and Christopher B. Ortiz; Best Law Firm Newsletter: Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Sarah K. Duran and Rory Eastburg; Best Law Firm Profile: Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, Claudia Freeman; Best Law Firm Publication: Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Stephen C. Dillard and Layne E. Kruse; Outstanding Authoritative Book by a Partner in a Law Firm: Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, Stacie McGinn and Lee Meyerson

External links[edit]