Former Delaware chief justice joins corporate governance law giant

A former senior judge and leading US advocate for workers’ rights has joined law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Kratz.

Leo Strine, a former Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice, is known for arguing that corporations should focus more on their workers. In his new role, he will be advising clients to care about their employees and other constituencies as much as they do for shareholders.

New York-based Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Kratz is noted for its corporate governance work. Strine’s experience in Delaware – the legal home of most US publicly traded companies – saw him on the state’s supreme court for two decades and as chief justice for the last five years.

Due to the state’s importance in corporate America, ‘white-shoe’ law firms including Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati have snapped up most of Delaware’s retiring judges.

In his new role, Strine’s focus will be on ensuring businesses follow up on their recent Business Roundtable commitment in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year nearly 200 US companies signed up to a pledge put forward by the Business Roundtable – an association of CEOs of leading US companies – to provide economic benefits to all and not just shareholders.

Strine recommends that companies consider becoming public benefit corporations, freeing them from shareholder demands so they can think more about social and environmental sustainability.

In an interview with Reuters, he said: “If we want people to have confidence in our economy and market sectors, they have to feel that sectors are treating workers with respect, respecting communities in which they operate and being environmentally responsible.”

Another consequence of the pandemic has been corporate acquirers getting cold feet with several cancelled deals.

“The courts will have an eye out for anyone who looks to be taking an unfair advantage,” Strine said, adding that the acquirers seeking to walk away from deals were often suffering in the pandemic as much as the acquisition targets.

Last Updated: 30 April 2020
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