As vice president and general counsel at Seton Hall University, Catherine Kiernan prefers to think of her role as not only the most challenging of her long career but also the most rewarding.
“Seton Hall took a chance on me 30 years ago when they decided to establish me as first in-house counsel," said Kiernan, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award at NJBIZ’s 2018 General Counsel of the Year Awards. “I love Seton Hall and what I do at the university, but I must confess, it doesn’t feel like work. We are not just a group of random people who happen to work together, but we’re dedicated Setonians. It’s not a job, it’s not a career, it’s a way of life.”
Kiernan was one of seven lawyers who won prizes at the annual event held Friday in a packed ballroom at The Palace at Somerset Park in Somerset.
The General Counsel of the Year Awards were decided by a panel of judges not affiliated with NJBIZ, including Leslie Anderson of New Jersey Redevelopment Authority, Damien Atkins of Panasonic Corporation of North America, Jazmine Estacio of Coach USA and Kimberly MacKay of Novartis Business Services.
Also among the winners was Michelle Ifill, senior vice president and general counsel for Verizon Corporate Services Group, who won in the Public Company category. Her career spans 25 years, and today she is responsible for the legal oversight and support of the Verizon Corporate Information Technology Organization and the Chief Administrative Office.
In Ifill’s eyes, the most important part of her job is the guidance she provides to younger attorneys.
“I have spent a lot of time creating future leaders, and so the most important part is the fact that I’m giving back by spending my time bringing up the next generation of attorneys,” she said.
A complete list of winners follows:
Healthcare Organization: Miriam Baker, Riverside Medical Group of Optum
Nonprofit or Government Organization: Holly Stern, New Jersey Institute of Technology
Private Company with Annual Revenues Over $500 million: Matthew Buckley, AnnieMac Home Mortgage
Private Company with Annual Revenues Up to $500 million: Bradley Goldman, Palisade Capital Management, LLC
Public Company: Michelle Ifill, Verizon Corporate Services Group
Rising Star: Carrie Parikh, Wyndham Hotel Group
Lifetime Achievement: Catherine Kiernan, Seton Hall University