Ballard Spahr’s David L. Axelrod Is a Finalist for Attorney of the Year Award
Ballard Spahr’s David L. Axelrod, lead trial counsel in the successful defense of The New York Times against a high-stakes lawsuit by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, has been named a finalist for the 2023 Attorney of the Year award from The Legal Intelligencer.
Mr. Axelrod, a partner in Ballard Spahr’s Litigation Department, is one of just three finalists for the award, to be presented June 14 at The Legal Intelligencer’s Pennsylvania Legal Awards 2023 event. The Attorney of the Year honor is awarded to a lawyer or judge from the Pennsylvania or Delaware legal communities “whose work in 2022 had a distinct impact on the law and the legal profession in Pennsylvania.”
Ms. Palin, a former candidate for Vice President of the United States, accused The New York Times of libel for publishing an editorial that originally asserted a link between her political rhetoric and a mass shooting in Arizona in 2011—which was corrected soon after publication.
In announcing Mr. Axelrod as a finalist, The Legal Intelligencer noted that the lawsuit “threatened landmark U.S. Supreme Court precedent on First Amendment protections.” The suit “caught headlines around the world in light of comments from two U.S. Supreme Court justices who urged that the decades-old precedent for establishing actual malice in libel cases be revisited,” the editors wrote. But “the 10-day trial ended with not only a defense win from the jury, but also a ruling from the judge dismissing the case while deliberations were ongoing.”
Mr. Axelrod serves as a first-chair trial lawyer. In addition to defending parties sued for defamation, he focuses on defending corporations and individuals in government-facing litigation involving the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the U.S. Department of Justice. Mr. Axelrod is a former SEC Supervisory Trial Counsel in Philadelphia—where he served as lead trial counsel and directed all aspects of litigation and complex, multi-agency investigations—as well as a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where he investigated and prosecuted a range of civil and criminal matters. He serves as Practice Leader of Ballard Spahr’s Securities Enforcement and Corporate Governance Litigation Group.
To determine honorees, The Legal Intelligencer’s editorial staff consults with “esteemed members of the Pennsylvania legal community” to narrow the nominees to three finalists and select a winner from among them, according to the publication. The award is not approved or endorsed by any judicial body.
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