America’s leading corporate jurist resigned today, creating a vacancy at the top of the Delaware Court of Chancery. Chancellor William B. Chandler III notified the Delaware governor he plans to retire to seek opportunities in the private sector. Chandler’s resignation comes before the completion of his second 12-year term. Chandler, 60, had been on the Delaware Court of Chancery for 22 years and was appointed chief judge in 1997. He was reconfirmed to a second term as chief justice in 2009. He resigned in a letter to Gov. Jack Markell this morning and his last day will be June 17.
“I want to pursue new and exciting opportunities and challenges that are available to me,” said Chandler. “I also believe now is the time for me to seek greater financial rewards in the interest of my family.”
In the cover story in the December/January issue of NACD Directorship, Chandler spoke of his legacy as chancellor. “To me, the most important case I have worked on is the one I’m working on right now. Whether it’s Disney or the dissolution of a failed start-up company—all of my cases are equally important. Some of the smaller disputes involving micro-cap companies frequently generate some of the most important principles and ideas in our jurisprudence. I will have to leave it to others to assess which cases define my legacy.”
Chandler’s resignation—described as a surprise by the Delaware News-Journal, which broke the story—creates a vacancy that will be filled.
According to the Delaware News-Journal, Chandler is being aggressively wooed by several top-tier international law firms. Among the contenders to succeed Chandler is Vice Chancellor Leo W. Strine Jr., according to Charles Elson. The director of the University of Delaware’s Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance told Bloomberg that Strine, appointed in 1998, is now the court’s most senior judge. Any successor must be nominated by Markell, a Democrat, and approved by state legislators. Strine served as counsel to former Delaware Gov. Thomas R. Carper, who is now one of Delaware’s two senators.