The Judge William Allen: 'I didn't try to frighten directors. I encouraged them.'.

Author:Kristie, James
Position:A Life in Governance - Brief Article

"I WAS ALWAYS INTERESTED in business and in economics. When I first went to law school I had the idea that antitrust was something that I would pursue. Back in the late '60s and '70s antitrust was an area in which government policy and law impacted upon business in a dramatic way. So corporation law was a natural for me.

I attended law school at the University of Texas because it had the cheapest law school tuition in the country. I was a scholarship student in college at NYU and had very little money. I was just lucky that the law school that was affordable was also one with a fine faculty.

I enjoyed life in Texas. Texans have a kind of openness and optimism and friendliness that I found very attractive. I thought about staying and practicing law in Houston, but I determined that I was really an East Coast person so I came back east in 1972 and clerked for two years for a magnificent individual named Walter Stapleton. He was and remains a great judge on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Since he was in Wilmington, I went there -- and didn't leave for a very long time.

After the clerkship I joined a Wilmington firm, Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell, and did corporate litigation for several years in the Court of Chancery and in the Federal courts. Most of my corporate litigation experience was as a defense lawyer. We had a number of cases in which we defended boards of directors, although I do remember one big case in which we were the plaintiff, representing a minority shareholder in a closely held company against the directors. And as a young attorney, I acted as an assistant to Sam Arsht, the senior partner in the firm, who was doing some interesting board advisory work, particularly related to the problems during this period in the late '70s with foreign payments being made by U.S. corporations. That gave me a chance to visit boards and see boards in action.

I eventually evolved into a deal lawyer in banking transactions. I was one of the lawyers working with J.P. Morgan & Co. to incorporate their Delaware bank and on other transactions. After five or six years of negotiating business transactions, I realized I missed writing, which I enjoy. And I wanted to have a period of public service in my life. That combination of wanting to express myself in writing and doing some public service suggested to me that judicial work would be satisfying. I had declined an offer to join the Court of Chancery extended by Gov. Pete du Pont, but when his...

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