Ben Wilson Receives The American Lawyer’s Lifetime Achievement Award

The American Lawyer

In a December 2 ceremony in New York, The American Lawyer presented B&D Chairman Ben Wilson (Washington, DC) a Lifetime Achievement Award for his longstanding contributions to the legal profession. 

Watch Ben's acceptance speech.

“This award appropriately recognizes Ben’s 45 years of practice and his tremendous impact on the legal profession not only in environmental law but also with respect to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” commented Kathy Szmuszkovicz (Firmwide Managing Principal, Washington, DC). “We are so proud to call Ben our colleague, and we congratulate him on behalf of everyone at B&D.”

Principal Roy Prather (Washington, DC), Chair of the firm’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, said, “Ben has made an indelible impact on lawyers of color, including serving as a mentor and advisor to many diverse lawyers like me who have been inspired by his career and his example. His tireless advocacy for diversity, equity, and inclusion and his influence on the field of environmental law cannot be overstated.”

Ben commented, “I am grateful to The American Lawyer for this recognition, and to all the clients and mentors who have helped shape my career and practice of law. Any accomplishment on my part is due to the support of others – in particular my extraordinary colleagues at Beveridge & Diamond who embody excellence in environmental law and litigation, and of course my wife Merinda and daughter Rachel, whose love and support have sustained me throughout my career.”

Ben has been lead counsel in numerous complex environmental litigation and regulatory matters for major consumer product corporations, retailers, oil and gas companies, municipalities, and developers. He recently served as the Court-Appointed Monitor for the Duke Energy coal ash spill remediation project and as Deputy Monitor for Emissions & Environmental in the Volkswagen AG emissions proceedings.

He is Chair of the Environmental Law Institute, Secretary of the Board of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, and Chairman of the Environmental, Energy, and Public Utilities Law Section of the National Bar Association. He also serves on the Boards of PG&E Corporation and Northwestern Mutual Insurance Company. Ben is an Adjunct Professor of Environmental Law at the Howard University School of Law, where he co-founded the Howard Energy and Environmental Law Society. He established the African American General Counsel and Managing Partner Networks in 2012 and founded the Diverse Partners Network in 2008.

Recently, Ben was named as one of Lawyers of Color’s Most Influential Black Lawyers of the Decade and received the National Bar Association’s Presidential Award, and My Brother’s Keeper | My Sister’s Keeper honored Ben with a video tribute.

B&D congratulates the other announced recipients of The American Lawyer’s 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award, including Jeh Johnson of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck of  The Innocence Project, Leah Ward Sears of Smith, Gambrell & Russell, Larry Sonsini of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (Distinguished Law Firm Leader), Kathleen Sullivan, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, and Seth Waxman of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.

Past distinguished recipients of the award include women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Patricia Wald, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, former U.S. Attorneys General Eric Holder and Richard Thornburgh, and many others. A complete list of past Lifetime Achievement Award recipients can be found here. Read The American Lawyer's recap of the 2021 ceremony and all winners (subscription required).