Columbia Alumni Honored By New York Law Journal

Lifetime Achievement, Rising Star, and Distinguished Leader Awards given to 12 Columbians.

The New York Law Journal recognized eleven alumni of Columbia Law School and a lecturer on the Law School’s faculty with 2017 Professional Excellence Awards, which the journal conferred at a ceremony on October 17. The honorees are profiled in a report published this month by the journal, which is the official newspaper of the city’s legal profession.

Lifetime Achievement

The award recognizes accomplishments and impact on the legal community and the practice of law of three Columbia Law School alumni and a lecturer on the Law School’s faculty over the course of their careers. Excerpts from the tributes written by leaders of New York’s legal community are below.

Ira Millstein ’49
Ira Millstein 49
Senior Partner, Weil Gotshal & Manges

By Barry Wolf, Executive Partner, Weil, Gotshal & Manges
Called a “governance guru,” “statesman” and “boardroom crusader,” he has championed governance reform and transformed the relationship between companies' boards and their shareholders and management. Because of Ira, directors are more aware of their role and responsibilities to serve the best interests of the company as a whole. Read more.



Gary P. Naftalis 76 
Partner, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel

By Jed S. Rakoff, U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York
Year after year, Gary Naftalis is rated the top trial lawyer in New York. (Eat your heart out, David Boies.) Admittedly, this is a far cry from his youthful ambition to play forward for the Knicks. But Gary, forced onto a different kind of court, has already managed to score more victories than the Knicks are likely to achieve in our lifetimes. Read more.




Mary Jo White ’​74


Partner and Senior Chair, Debevoise & Plimpton

By Sara Moss, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of The Estée Lauder Companies
Whether taking on terrorists, the mob or white-collar criminals as U.S. Attorney, addressing the major issues raised by the financial crisis as Chair of the SEC or guiding clients through “bet the company” legal crises as a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton, Mary Jo White has blazed a remarkable trail of achievement and she is still outpacing everyone, working 24/7 and leading Debevoise's strategic crisis response and solutions group. Read more.



Paul Shechtman
Lecturer, Columbia Law School/ Partner, Bracewell 

By Barbara S. Jones, Partner, Bracewell
The legal community knows Paul Shechtman as a brilliant trial lawyer, appellate advocate, scholar, and writer—with good reason. . . . Along the way, Paul has taught for the past two decades at Columbia. The students adore him, giving him Columbia’s award for outstanding teaching—twice.  Read more.


Rising Stars

The awards recognize the region’s most promising lawyers under 40. Seven alumni were honored for their influence in their practice areas in New York and beyond.



Distinguished Leaders

The journal honored Molly Boast ’79, a partner at WilmerHale, for her leadership. 


Posted on October 20, 2017