Michael Franck Professional Responsibility Award

2020 Award Recipient

Robert Mundheim

“An exemplary lawyer whose career has demonstrated that zealous advocacy can go hand in hand with a commitment to professional responsibility, fiduciary duty, and the ethical practice of law.”

Robert Mundheim, (Harvard University Law School LL.B., 1957), is the recipient of the 2020 Michael Franck Professional Responsibility Award from the American Bar Association Center for Professional Responsibility. Robert Mundheim is of counsel to Shearman & Sterling LLP in New York City, specializing in corporate governance.

After initially starting out in private practice, Mundheim took on a variety of posts in academia and the public, corporate, and private sectors. He taught at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and was Dean from 1982 to 1989. Mundheim was general counsel to the U.S. Treasury Department from 1977 to 1980, playing a prominent role in negotiating the release of U.S. hostages in Iran. He was also a cochairman of Fried Frank, and in 1992 became senior executive vice president and general counsel of investment bank Salomon Smith Barney, before returning to private practice at Shearman & Sterling in 1999.

Mr. Mundheim is widely admired and world renowned for being a prominent business lawyer and a lawyer whose practice is centered on ethics and professionalism.   In a letter of support, his friends and colleagues in the ABA Business Law Section wrote:

[Robert Mundheim is a] very visible practicing lawyer who has incorporated in every part of his professional life, the values and specifics of professionalism … who has made it his business to preach the professionalism and ethics gospel to all practicing lawyers. The paradigm of the practicing business lawyer who incorporates ethics and professionalism into every part of his professional life.

As part of his many contributions to ensuring that professionalism and ethics remain at the forefront of the practice of law, Mr. Mundheim served on the New York City Bar’s Presidential Task Force on the Lawyer’s Role in Corporate Governance, he regularly instructs in-house counsel on legal ethics, and he continues to serve as an expert panelist at legal ethics continuing legal education programs across the United States and in the United Kingdom. While serving as Dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Mundheim established that law school’s Center for Professionalism and instituted the first mandatory pro bono program for students at a major law school. In his involvement with the ABA, Mr. Mundheim has been both a member and Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, led the ABA Working Group on Lawyer’s Representation of Regulated Clients, and took leading roles with the Presidential Commission on Multi-Disciplinary Practice and the Presidential Task Force on Corporate Responsibility.

Mr. Mundheim will receive the ABA Michael Franck Professional Responsibility Award during the 2020 Professional Responsibility Fall Leadership Conference in October in Chicago, IL.