Press Release

ALM’s Corporate Counsel Names “Best Legal Departments” Winners: Acorda Therapeutics, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Caesars, California State University

ALM’s Corporate Counsel Names “Best Legal Departments” Winners: Acorda Therapeutics, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Caesars, California State University

NEW YORK – May 15, 2013 – ALM’s Corporate Counsel today announced the winners of its 2013 Best Legal Departments competition: Acorda Therapeutics Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb, Caesars Entertainment Corporation and California State University.

Mirroring the diversity of the nation’s law departments, Corporate Counsel, the leading publication for general counsel and in-house attorneys, has chosen to honor two outstanding small companies, one large corporation, and, for the first time, a public institution. “One trait that all these departments share is that the individual lawyers are passionate about the work they do,” wrote Editor in Chief Anthony Paonita. “And I mean that frequently misused word literally. Some of the university’s lawyers and staff are alumni. Some of the pharma folks have personal ties to friends and family who need their products. They’re all committed to a mission that motivates them to do their jobs in thoughtful, innovative ways.”

The winning departments, profiled in depth in Corporate Counsel‘s June issue and online at, are:

  • Acorda Therapeutics. With just eight lawyers fueled by perseverance and commitment, the department led by general counsel Jane Wasman stays intimately involved with the mission of developing therapies to combat central nervous system disorders. One-on-one ties between lawyers and business groups has helped minimize lawsuits. Some of its lawyers came from major pharmaceutical players; others never worked at a large company. Last year they pulled off a complex office relocation while handling the 14-year-old firm’s first corporate acquisition.
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb. Its 114 in-house lawyers needed their usual camaraderie and hard work more than ever last year as BMS raced to launch new products in the face of patent expirations on some top sellers. The department, which works particularly closely with the R&D unit, increased patent applications by 75 percent. Meanwhile, they fielded a steady stream of patent lawsuits, along with product liability litigation and government investigations. The team shows remarkable cooperation based on dedication to the larger health-care mission.
  • Caesars Entertainment. Handling everything from the gaming industry’s most complex merger to lawsuits from disgruntled casino losers, along with worldwide regulatory scrutiny and 75 collective bargaining agreements, Caesars’ 21-lawyer department has delivered top-quality work despite cost-cutting necessitated by a down economy and a challenging array of expansion plans. General counsel Timothy Donovan’s business background has helped.
  • California State University. The world’s largest four-year university system, CSU and its lawyers oversee 23 campuses and nearly 440,000 students, while grappling with recent billion-dollar budget cuts. Just retired general counsel Christine Helwick’s comprehensive litigation prevention program brought annual caseloads down 70 percent to 66 last year, none of which was lost. The department includes alumni who appreciate the affordable education mission.

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