by Rafael B. de Toledo
Inviting Chief Justice Leo Strine to speak at CLS and taking the Deals Litigation seminar — where the idea of the invitation arose — were certainly the academic highlights of my LL.M. at CLS. The Deals Litigation seminar, taught by William Savitt and Ryan McLeod, two partners at Wachtell Lipton, allows students to dive deeply into the study of Delaware case law on M&A transactions and to simulate a real-life trial in Delaware Courts, where professors play witnesses and judges, while students represent the parties involved in a hypothetical dispute. For these disputes, we analyzed and discussed several landmark decisions by Chief Justice Leo Strine, who has served in Delaware for more than 20 years now, including more than five years as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
A few days before my trial simulation in the seminar, a very important decision on the same subject as my hypothetical case was issued by the Delaware Court of Chancery, and appeals were filed to the Supreme Court. The oral arguments session at the Supreme Court, presided by Chief Justice Strine was transmitted live, and I watched him, the other judges of the court, and lawyers of the parties having interesting discussions about that exact same subject matter I was working on in class.
I exchanged e-mails with McLeod about the session, and after this exchange, thought how interesting it would be to invite Chief Justice Strine to speak at CLS with McLeod to give students the opportunity to hear from both sides: a judge who actually decides the cases we study, literally creating the law in the corporate world, and a lawyer from Wachtell Lipton, who traditionally represents parties in disputes before the court. McLeod supported the idea from the beginning. Chief Justice Strine accepted my invitation, and our event was a great success.
We hosted a lunch panel at CLS with Chief Justice Strine, McLeod, and Professor John Coffee. Chief Justice Strine amazed the audience of more than 90 students by doing a historical analysis of material adverse effects, representations and warranties, and closing conditions in M&A contracts, explaining in detail the reasons behind his decisions in important related matters, and captivating students with his great sense of humor and friendly personality. Professor Coffee and McLeod then gave invaluable contributions to the panel discussion that followed, as did Professor Jeffrey Gordon who too attended the event. I wrote my LL.M. Writing Project on the topic discussed by Chief Justice Strine and continue to discuss it today using many of the ideas I got during the event.
I am very proud of how the event turned out and very thankful to my friends on the executive board of CLS Brazil who helped make it happen!
Rafael B. de Toledo is an LL.M. student from Brazil. He is the head of the CLS Brazil Association and a member of the CLS Student Senate. Before he came to Columbia Law School, he earned his LL.B. from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, MBA from IBMEC and practiced corporate law at Pinheiro Neto Advogados.