WASHINGTON, DC (August 7, 2009) – Recognizing his distinguished career as one of the nation’s top attorneys in both the public and private sector, and as a leader in advancing diversity in the legal profession, American Lawyer magazine has named Venable partner and former chair Benjamin R. Civiletti one of its Lifetime Achievement Award honorees for 2009.
American Lawyer's lifetime achievement winners are senior lawyers who have made important contributions to public life while building outstanding private or public-interest practices. According to AmLaw editor Aric Press, honorees have also given life to the profession's abstract values of client and public service. Among the other notables being recognized this year is former FBI and CIA Director William Webster. Past winners include former Secretaries of State Warren Christopher and James Baker, former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, and former Chief Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Patricia Wald.
Mr. Civiletti's long career is a testament to public service both in and out of government. He is best known for serving as U.S. Attorney General from 1979-81 under President Jimmy Carter.
As Attorney General, Mr. Civiletti argued on behalf of the American captives held in Iran before the International Court of Justice. He also argued before the U.S. Supreme Court for the right to denaturalize Nazi war criminals. Other accomplishments while he headed the Justice Department included the promulgation of open trial guidelines and the publication of a national report outlining judicial protocols for the investigation and prosecution of white-collar criminals. He also served as deputy attorney general, and assistant attorney general for the criminal division.
Mr. Civiletti joined Venable in 1964, serving as Managing Partner from 1987 to 1993, then firm Chairman from 1993 to 2006, and leading it to exponential growth in size and revenue, and establishing it as a nationally prominent firm during his tenure. Mr. Civiletti also maintains a leading commercial litigation and corporate governance practice, and is regularly cited as among the best in his practice areas nationally. He has represented boards and executives of some of the nation’s largest companies in corporate and SEC investigation and enforcement matters.
In addition to his private practice, Mr. Civiletti heads the Venable Foundation, one of the country’s largest law firm philanthropies, which provides a financial complement to the firm’s extensive pro bono work. He has also frequently chaired state-wide task forces and blue ribbon panels under numerous Maryland Governors, including the recent Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment and the Maryland Governor’s Commission on Welfare Policy.
Mr. Civiletti, who is former Chair of the American Bar Association Litigation Section, has also been a prominent supporter of enhancing diversity in the legal profession. He worked closely with fellow 2009 honoree Dennis Archer as a member of the ABA’s Section on Diversity and has long argued for firms to hire, develop and promote minority attorneys. His “13 points” on why law firms should hire minority attorneys have won him wide acclaim.
"We couldn’t be more pleased – or more proud – that American Lawyer has honored Ben Civiletti, our colleague and long-time leader, with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Ben has long held the conviction that our legal system exists to enhance public life, and his career both in government and private practice exemplify that ideal,” said Venable Managing Partner Karl Racine. "Ben has been an inspiration for all of us, demonstrating that the firm's commitment to its clients, its employees, the profession, and the communities in which we work is what distinguishes Venable.
Note: An American Lawyer top 100 law firm, Venable LLP has attorneys practicing in all areas of corporate and business law, complex litigation, intellectual property and government affairs. Venable serves corporate, institutional, governmental, nonprofit and individual clients throughout the U.S. and around the world from its headquarters in Washington, D.C. and offices in California, Maryland, New York and Virginia.