Wachtell hires former Delaware chief justice and corporate governance campaigner Leo Strine

Proponent of boardroom reform calls for 'environmentally responsible, sustainable wealth creation'
Photo of Leo Strine

Leo Strine: 'As a judge, I thought the importance of corporations in our society could not be measured by their stock price.'

Leo Strine, former Delaware chief justice and a leading proponent of governance reform, has joined New York M&A powerhouse Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz as a consultant.

Strine is joining Wachtell’s corporate team as an of counsel after 21 years as a judge in Delaware, where the majority of Fortune 500 companies are incorporated.

As Vice Chancellor and then Chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery, he was responsible for a succession of influential decisions in the fields of corporate governance, fiduciary duties and M&A law.

He stepped down as Chief Justice last autumn after six years in the role, with almost seven years of his 12-year term remaining.

In a statement, Wachtell said he would be taking a ‘strategic counselling role’ advising clients on ‘corporate governance solutions, including in the increasingly important area of efficiently integrating concern for sustainability and social responsibility (EESG) into corporate practices, structuring complex transactions, and shaping transactional and litigation strategy.’

Strine said: “As a judge, I thought the importance of corporations in our society could not be measured by their stock price, and that it was critical to our nation’s well-being that powerful businesses treat their workers and consumers well, support the communities in which they operate, and focus on environmentally responsible, sustainable wealth creation.”

He added that Wachtell had been “a consistent voice on behalf of that viewpoint” and he believed it would be “a great institution for me to help to put into practical application principles I believe are vital to our economy working for everyone”.

He also stressed the importance of Wachtell’s status as an independent law firm meaning he could collaborate with other firms, especially in Delaware.

In an influential research paper — Towards Fair and Sustainable Capitalism — published last October jointly by the University of Pennsylvania Institute for Law and Economics and Harvard Law School’s The John M. Olin Center for Law Economics and Business, Strine proposed sweeping corporate governance reforms.

These included ‘authorising companies to use European-style works’ councils to increase employee voice, and reforming labour laws to make it easier for workers to join a union and bargain for fair wages and working conditions’ and ‘reforming the corporate election system so that voting occurs on a more rational, periodic, and thoughtful basis’, according to the paper’s abstract.

Wachtell Lipton secured top spot in Mergermarket's gloal M&A advisory table for 2019, a position it continued to hold in Q1 of 2020.

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