BASF Press Release

2023 In-House Counsel Awards Recognize Legal Leaders in AI Technology, Pro Bono, and Diversity

June 9, 2023, San Francisco — The Bar Association of San Francisco is excited to announce the winners of the 2023 In-House Counsel Awards.

Thomas Mandel Onda headshot
Thomas Mandel Onda
Levi Strauss & Co.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Cathleen Hartge
Rising Star Award
HS-Danielle Coleman-144 - Headshot
Danielle Coleman
Community Champion Award
Laura McAdams
Laura McAdams
Diversity Award

Outstanding Small Law Department Award
Alphabet’s Regulatory Response, Investigations & Strategy
Outstanding Large Law Department Award

In the category of Lifetime Achievement, the award goes to Thomas Mandel Onda, Chief Counsel, Global Intellectual Property, Brands and Marketing for Levi Strauss & Co. The winning nomination highlights Onda’s success as a nationally recognized expert on brand protection and fashion law. “Tom not only magnificently managed hundreds of IP-related matters, but was also recognized for his participation on a team that developed a revolutionary technology that both contributed to LS&Co.’s sustainability goals and on a broader level, achieved transformational changes in LS&Co.’s operating model.”

The Rising Star award goes to Cathleen Hartge, General Counsel, Runway. Former colleagues summarize Hartge’s impact: “Cathleen Hartge is an Asian American female general counsel who is at the forefront of innovative technologies and has stood out among her peers as a lawyer, leader, and game-changer at each stage of her career. Prior to joining Runway, Cathleen founded and built the legal department at Branch, which enables brands to build and measure engaging end-user experiences across digital platforms. She strategically advised the executive team and board through five years of global hypergrowth. Her analytics, writing, and judgment on important matters were beyond her years in the legal profession. In addition, Hartge has been a leader committed to advancing diversity throughout her legal career by leading various diversity initiatives and mentoring many diverse law students and junior attorneys at Branch.”

OpenAI receives the Outstanding Small Law Department award. The nomination highlights how OpenAI’s in-house legal team tackles a myriad of complex legal issues brought by the ground-breaking AI technologies. “The legal department has adroitly navigated these issues and cleared the path for the company’s meteoric rise. In addition, they provided product counsel and a wide variety of commercial arrangements to OpenAI’s engineering and business teams throughout the development of DALL-E. They have helped shape use policies that require humans in the loop for high-stakes use cases like legal and medical, and remain active in discussions about AI safety standards.”

The Outstanding Large Law Department award goes to Alphabet’s Regulatory Response, Investigations & Strategy (“ARRIS”). The winning nomination states: “The team handles high-risk issues that involve regulatory scrutiny, enforcement actions, and other proceedings such as shareholder litigation, internal investigations, and data incidents, as well as other emerging risks across Alphabet globally. ARRIS is comprised of an extraordinary cohort of lawyers and directs matters of the highest profile and greatest sensitivity.”

Danielle Coleman, Senior Director & Associate General Counsel at VMware receives the Community Champion award. The winning nomination states:“ Danielle’s pro bono work includes representing low-income tenants in unlawful detainer settlement negotiations and helping a Nicaraguan woman obtain asylum in the U.S. Danielle is also passionate about supporting individuals who are eager to reenter the workforce but are struggling due to criminal records. Through her involvement in the reentry court program and the record clearing project for Fire Camp volunteers, Danielle has worked with underrepresented individuals to prepare them for employment opportunities and help them reintegrate into society.”

The Diversity Champion award goes to Laura McAdams, Lead Counsel, Cruise. McAdams conceptualized and implemented Cruise’s Legal Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) program that promotes inclusive workplace policies that are applied fairly and equitably, as well as addresses systemic discrimination, such as recruiting candidates from underrepresented backgrounds; she instituted DEIB Scorecard requirements for outside counsel and incorporated pro bono into the framework. She shows full commitment to building and fostering a strong DEIB culture in the legal field.

The In-House Counsel Awards are made possible by the generous support of these sponsors:

Platinum Sponsor: Gibson Dunn; Bronze Sponsors: Akin, BraunHagey & Borden, Farella Braun + Martel, Kilpatrick Townsend, Morrison Foerster, Perkins Coie. 

The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) is a nonprofit voluntary membership organization of attorneys, law students, and legal professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area. Founded in 1872, BASF enjoys the support of more than 7,500 individuals, law firms, corporate legal departments, and law schools. Through its board of directors, its committees, and its volunteer legal services programs and other community efforts, BASF has worked actively to promote and achieve equal justice for all and oppose discrimination in all its forms, including, but not limited to, discrimination based on race, sex, disability, and sexual orientation. BASF provides a collective voice for public advocacy, advances professional growth and education, and attempts to elevate the standards of integrity, honor, and respect in the practice of law.