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Law Alumni Society honors outstanding alumni & former dean with the 2014 Annual Alumni Awards

October 17, 2014

On October 28, the Law School honored six University of Pennsylvania Law School graduates and one former Penn Law dean and faculty member for their career achievements, pro bono work, service to the legal profession, and service to the School.

Included in the group were a special advisor for prosecution strategies for the International Criminal Court in the Hague; the COO and GC of a major NYC-based global multi-disciplinary investment firm; the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; a highly respected tax law expert currently serving as an adjunct lecturer at Penn Law; an Assistant DA committed to working on potential wrongful conviction cases and DNA testing in Boston; a well-known private law firm trial lawyer instrumental in creating the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Public Interest Section; and a former faculty member and Dean of Penn Law.

The ceremony was held in Penn Law’s Michael A. Fitts Auditorium and was followed by a reception in the Davis Student Union.

The 2014 Penn Law Alumni Society Award Honorees were:

  • James Wilson Award Honoring a lifetime of service to the profession, Robert Mundheim (former Penn Law Dean and faculty member)
  • Distinguished Service Award Honoring service to the Law School, Rick D’Avino W’77, L’80
  • Alumni Award of Merit Honoring professional achievement and service to the Law School, Marcy Engel L’83
  • Alumni Award of Merit Honoring professional achievement and service to the Law School, Wifredo A. Ferrer L’90
  • Howard Lesnick Pro Bono Award Honoring a sustained commitment to pro bono and/or public service throughout a private sector career, Robert C. Heim W’64, L’72
  • Louis H. Pollak Public Service Award Honoring justice through service to others, Patricia Viseur Sellers L’79
  • Young Alumni Award Honoring the professional achievement of an alumnus/a who has graduated within the past 10 years, Charlotte Whitmore L’08

The James Wilson Award, honoring a lifetime of service to the profession, will be awarded to Robert Mundheim.

Bob is a dedicated and outstanding longtime member of the Penn Law community, having spent several decades working tirelessly with our students, staff, faculty, and alumni. He is a University Professor of Finance and Law Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he began teaching in 1965. He also capably led our institution as Dean of Penn Law for nearly a decade (1982–1989). It was under his watch that Penn Law’s Public Interest Program was first established, and that our public service requirement for students was introduced — distinguishing Penn Law as the first major law school to illustrate our commitment to public service through such a requirement. Under his Deanship, planning and fundraising for the addition of Tanenbaum Hall began as well. Together with Penn Law Professor Noyes Leech, he established Penn Law’s Journal of International Economic Law in 1978, and has served as an advisor to the Journal for many years.

Bob is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of New School University and of the Curtis Institute of Music, a member of the Board of Directors of the Salzburg Global Seminar, and an emeritus member of the Council of the American Law Institute.

He is a 1954 graduate of Harvard College, magna cum laude, a 1957 graduate of Harvard Law, magna cum laude, and received an honorary MA from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971.

The Distinguished Service Award, honoring service to the Law School, will be awarded to Rick D’Avino W’77, L’80.

Rick D’Avino was with GE from 1991 through 2013, as Vice President and Senior Tax Counsel at GE Capital until 2005, and subsequently as Vice President and Senior Tax Counsel at General Electric Company. Following his departure from GE, Rick joined the private-equity firm General Atlantic (GA) as a Special Advisor. At GA, Rick works on all matters related to taxes for GA’s investment teams and its portfolio companies. Rick recently joined PricewaterhouseCoopers as a Managing Director.

In addition to serving as a lecturer and board member at Penn Law, Rick volunteers his time each year to participate in countless other student and alumni activities at the Law School, including events such as 1L Orientation and the annual Equal Justice Foundation auction, where he has capably served as auctioneer for the past two years. He is Chairman of the new Dean Clinton Society honoring consecutive donors to Penn Law, and together with his wife Pamela Murphy L’79, endowed the D’Avino/Murphy Legal Writing Fund at Penn Law.

Rick was graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School with a BS in Economics, summa cum laude, in 1977, and from the University of Pennsylvania Law School with a JD, cum laude, in 1980. While at Penn Law, Rick was an Arthur Littleton Legal Writing Instructor, an Editor of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, President of the Class of 1980, a member of the Order of the Coif, President of Beta Alpha Psi, and was awarded the Bernard A. Chertcoff Prize for the Highest Grades in Taxation.

An Alumni Award of Merit, honoring professional achievement and service to the Law School, will be awarded to Marcy Engel L’83.

Marcy Engel is Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel of Eton Park Capital Management, L.P., a global alternatives investment firm. In this role she is responsible for all of the non-investment aspects of Eton Park’s business including Investor Relations, Technology, Operations, Finance, Treasury, Risk, Legal and Compliance, and Human Resources and Facilities.

Throughout her career, Marcy has remained actively involved with Penn Law alumni and current students through a variety of programs, boards, events, and initiatives. She has served as a class agent and reunion committee member and former chair within her own class, and she’s reached students and other alumni through her volunteer engagement on alumni panels, as a guest lecturer back at Penn Law, and as a member of the Alumni Advisory Board for Penn Law’s Journal of International Law. Since 2003, she has also served as a member of Penn Law’s Board of Overseers.

Marcy received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and received a JD degree, cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1983.

An Alumni Award of Merit, honoring professional achievement and service to the Law School, will be awarded to Wifredo A. Ferrer L’90.

Willy Ferrer was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate on April 22, 2010 to serve as United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. As United States Attorney, Willy is the chief federal law enforcement officer for the District. In January 2014, Willy was appointed by Attorney General Eric Holder to serve a two-year term on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee (AGAC). Prior to his appointment as United States Attorney, Willy held the position of Chief of the Federal Litigation Section at the Miami-Dade County Attorney’s Office.

Willy continues to give back to Penn Law, engaging with current students and fellow alumni both in South Florida and back in Philadelphia. He’s been a member and co-chairman of his reunion committees, and speaks and meets both informally and formally with current students, having recently returned to Penn Law as a Penn Law Career Crossroads Speaker and as the Keynote Speaker at a recent symposium of Penn Law’s Latin American Law Students Association (LALSA) Symposium.

Willy, a Miami native, received his undergraduate degree in Economics in 1987 from the University of Miami, in Coral Gables, graduating first in his class. He then attended the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he was an editor of the Law Review, President of his class, and graduated cum laude in 1990. He attended Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School, in Hialeah, where he graduated as Valedictorian of his class.

The Howard Lesnick Pro Bono Award, honoring an alumnus/a who has embodied the spirit of the Public Service Program through a sustained commitment to pro bono and/or public service throughout a private sector career, will be awarded to Robert C. Heim W’64, L’72.

Bob Heim, a Partner and former Litigation Department Chair at Dechert, LLP, is a nationally known trial lawyer who focuses his practice on antitrust, securities, products liability, and complex commercial litigation. He is a past Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association and past President of the National Conference of Bar Presidents. He is an elected Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. Bob has been consistently ranked as a leading lawyer in Chambers USA, and in 2013 was presented with the Legal Intelligencer’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Throughout his career in private practice, Bob has remained very actively involved in pro bono work and public service through a multitude of organizations, programs, and initiatives. In 1988, Bob co-founded Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, a statewide, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to ensure that all Pennsylvanians can come to Pennsylvania courts for justice with confidence that the most qualified, fair, and impartial judges will preside over their cases. He formerly served as its Board Chair.

In the 1990’s, Bob, then-Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association, spearheaded the development of the Public Interest Section within the Bar, which provides a forum for public interest and private lawyers to come together on behalf of Philadelphia’s neediest community.

Bob served on active duty with the United States Navy from 1964 until 1969 and is a Captain (inactive) in the United States Naval Reserve. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1964, earned his MBA from the College of William & Mary in 1968, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he served as an editor of the Law Review, in 1972.

The Louis H. Pollak Public Service Award, honoring justice through service to others, will be awarded to Patricia Viseur Sellers L’79.

Patricia Viseur Sellers is Special Advisor for Prosecution Strategies to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague and a Visiting Fellow at Kellogg College of Oxford University, where she teaches International Criminal Law on the Masters of Human Rights faculty. Patricia is an international lawyer specializing in international human rights law, international criminal law, humanitarian law, and gender. She has served as the Special Advisor to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and to the Secretary General’s Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict, as well as advised governments, international organizations, and civil society groups.

From 1994–2007, Patricia was the Legal Advisor for Gender Related Crimes and Senior Acting Trial Attorney in the Office of the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. In that capacity, she advised teams of investigators and trial attorneys on the prosecution of sex based crimes under the tribunals’ statues and pertinent doctrines of humanitarian law. She has litigated and advised on the leading international criminal law cases regarding wartime sexual violence, sexual violence and genocide, and sexual violence and enslavement as a crime against humanity, including the Prosecutor v. Furundzija, the Prosecutor v. Akayesu and the Prosecutor v. Kunarac.

She is the recipient of the American Society of International Law’s Prominent Women in International Law award. She was named an Honorary Fellow by Penn Law School in 2006 and received an Honorary Doctorate of Law by the Law School of City University of New York in 2001. She has also been awarded the Martin Luther King Award bestowed by the Black Law Student Association of Rutgers University Law School.

Patricia earned her BA from Rutgers University in 1976, and her JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1979.

The Young Alumni Award, honoring the professional achievement of an alumnus/a who has graduated within the past 10 years, will be awarded to Charlotte Whitmore L’08.

Charlotte Whitmore is an Assistant District Attorney in the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, where she practices in the Massachusetts Post-Conviction DNA Testing Working Group. In this capacity, she collaborates with other members of the Group to develop best practices and procedures for issues surrounding cases of potential wrongful convictions, particularly evidence collection, retention, and preservation.

As a staff lawyer for The Pennsylvania Innocence Project, Charlotte investigated and litigated claims of actual innocence by persons incarcerated for crimes they did not commit. She helped persuade the trial court in a Chester County case to order DNA testing of a latent fingerprint lifted from the crime scene ten years ago. She assisted with the Project’s amicus curiae brief in the Han Tak Le case, which the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit cited for special mention in awarding relief to a habeas corpus petitioner who claimed that he was convicted of arson based on discredited fire science.

Charlotte’s most significant professional achievement is representing Eugene Gilyard in his quest for exoneration, along with Penn Law Professor David Rudovsky. After Charlotte spent over two years investigating and litigating Eugene’s innocence claim, he was exonerated and released from incarceration in November 2013. Eugene spent over 15 years incarcerated for a homicide he did not commit.

She is a graduate of Dartmouth College and a 2008 honors graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she was Senior Editor of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review and the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Law and Social Change. While at Penn Law, she also obtained an MSEd in Education, Culture, and Society.