Shearman Logo

News Oct 30, 2014

Mundheim Honored by The American Lawyer as a ‘Lifetime Achiever’

Of counsel Robert Mundheim, with a remarkable legal resume that spans government service, private practice, corporate, academia and pro bono, was one of eight lawyers in The American Lawyer’s Lifetime Achievers 2014 class and was honored at an Oct. 29 dinner in New York. The 2014 awards mark the 11th year the magazine has given the awards.

Today, in addition to his work as an active, practicing lawyer with Shearman & Sterling, Mundheim is a Professor of Corporate Law and Finance at the University of Arizona Law School and serves as an active member of several corporate and nonprofit boards.

Joining Mundheim as The American Lawyer Lifetime Achievers 2014 honorees are:

  • Martha Barnett, a Holland & Knight partner and former president of the American Bar Association and the first woman chair of the American Bar Association House of Delegates.
  • Michael Cooper, of counsel at Sullivan & Cromwell, a former litigation partner at the firm and the head of a number of law organizations, including the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, the Board of Regents of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the Legal Aid Society.
  • Donald Dunner, a partner at Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner and one of the world’s leading experts on patent law.
  • Vernon Jordan Jr., currently senior counsel at Akin Gump and one-time president and CEO of the National Urban League, as well as being a civil rights lawyer, corporate board member, and confidante to former President Bill Clinton
  • Rhoda Karpatkin, who served for many years as the president of Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports.
  • Charles Queenan Jr., chairman emeritus of K&L Gates and leader in the Pittsburgh business community.
  • Thomas Sager, senior vice president and general counsel at DuPont Legal and a champion of diversity in the legal industry.

“Bob is a giant in the legal industry, and this is a wonderful acknowledgement by The American Lawyer of his unparalleled career,” said Creighton Condon, Shearman & Sterling’s senior partner. “Bob has not only been—and continues to be—a trusted advisor to so many clients, but here at Shearman & Sterling, he is also a favorite confidante—from the firm’s senior leadership team and the partners to the young associates he mentors and supports.”

Among Mundheim’s career highlights:

Government
A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School and an associate at Shearman & Sterling early in his legal career, Mundheim moved into public service, soon becoming Special Counsel to the Securities and Exchange Commission and later appointed to the role of General Counsel of the United States Treasury. In his role with the Treasury, Mundheim was the Treasury negotiator in Algiers leading up to the freeing of the US hostages in Iran. He also represented Treasury in the government’s first bailout of Chrysler Corporation. In his government career, he was Chairman of the US Tax Court Nominating Commission, a Director of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, General Counsel of the Chrysler Loan Guarantee Board, and Treasury Designee to the Board of Trustees of the National Gallery of Art. Mundheim’s Treasury service was recognized by his receipt of the Alexander Hamilton Award in 1980.

Corporate
After the Treasury scandal at Salomon Brothers, Mundheim was asked by Warren Buffett to join the effort to rebuild the company as its Executive Vice President and General Counsel, where he also served as a member of the Management Board. He spent 6 1/2 years (1992-1998) at Salomon and its successor company, Salomon Smith Barney.

Academia
Mundheim has enjoyed an illustrious career in academia. He spent more than 25 years at the University of Pennsylvania as a Professor of Law and later as the Dean of the law school. In 1980 he was named as the University Professor of Law and Finance, a title reserved for a very small number of professors. He has been a visiting professor of law at UCLA Law School, Konstanz University, Harvard Law School and Duke Law School. At present he is Professor of Corporate Law & Finance at the University of Arizona Law School.

Private practice
After retiring as Dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Mundheim went to Fried Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, where he was elected as co-chairman. He rejoined Shearman & Sterling in 1999 as Of Counsel and has been an integral part of the firm’s Corporate Governance practice. He advises on corporate governance issues and has counseled special committees in the buy-outs of HCA, Aramark and Bright Horizons. Most recently he has represented the JP Morgan board in the “London whale” investigation.

Pro bono
Mundheim co-founded (with Arthur Fleischer Jr.) the Practicing Law Institute’s Annual Institute of Securities Regulations. He served as its co-chairman for 13 years and continues to serve on Institute panels. He has been a Council member of the American Law Institute for nearly 30 years, serving as a Consultant to ALI’s Federal Securities Law Code and as an Advisor and as Council liaison to the Project on Corporate Governance, to the ALI’s Restatement of the Law Governing Lawyers and to the Principles of the Law of Non-Profit Organizations. Mundheim has always found time to serve on non-profit boards. He was a member of the board and for 6 years President of the Appleseed Foundation, the creator of local centers throughout the United States which marshal the efforts of lawyers and non-lawyers to solve systemic problems in the communities in which the centers are located. Today he is a Trustee of the New School and a Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Curtis Institute of Music.

He has a long record of service relating to professional responsibility. As Dean at Penn, he was instrumental in launching its Center on Professionalism and in the school’s adoption of a mandatory pro bono obligation for its students. He has chaired many CLE panels on ethics and has served for 6 years on the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility, 3 of those years as Chairman. His activities in this area were recognized with his receipt of the Francis Rawle Award and the Harold P. Seligson Award for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Education. In addition to his service on the ABA’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, he also served as Vice Chairman of the ABA Working Group on Lawyer’s Representation of Regulated Clients and as a Member of the Presidential Commission on Multi-Disciplinary Practice, the Council of the Section of Business Law and the Presidential Task Force on Corporate Responsibility.

Mundheim’s professional achievements are all the more remarkable considering the challenges he faced in his youth. He came to the United States in 1939 when he was 5 years old as a refugee from Germany, settling with his family in New York City. Ironically, Mundheim’s life came full circle in 2007 when he was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for his efforts as pro bono president of the American Academy in Berlin, the noted arts, humanities and public affairs institution.