Strine Gets Nod to Lead Delaware High Court

, The Litigation Daily

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Chancellor Leo E. Strine, Jr.
Chancellor Leo E. Strine, Jr.

Delaware governor Jack Markell announced Wednesday that he's backing Chancellor Leo Strine Jr. to be the next chief justice of the state's Supreme Court. The nomination is subject to approval by the Delaware legislature.

Strine, who currently heads the state's influential Court of Chancery, comes about as close as it gets to rockstar status in the world of corporation law. The American Lawyer's Susan Beck found no shortage of practitioners and academics willing to sing his praises when she wrote this profile of him for the magazine in 2012. As Beck reported, Strine is doggedly protective of the state's position as the arbiter of high-end corporate disputes, and he's wary of other courts weighing in on Delaware law.

"People should stay in their own lane," Strine told Beck. He added: "[Delaware is] the Bergdorf Goodman, not the Dollar Store, of corporate law." In a December 2008 speech at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, Strine said, "For us, a small state, it is vital that we remain the leader in corporation law. That leadership produces thousands of Delaware jobs and nearly a quarter of our state's budget revenues."

Strine may be best known for his independent streak and his outspoken ways, which have even earned him some rebuke from the very court he's now poised to lead. For big corporations that see the Delaware courts as their preferred referee, watching a relative maverick like Strine take the helm at the state's highest court may cause a few jitters.

As mere reporters, we just hope the promotion doesn't inhibit Strine's enthusiastic judicial style, and especially his penchant for zingers. The Wall Street Journal put together a few of Strine's most notable quotes from his 15 years on the Delaware Court of Chancery. Here's one of our favorites, related to calculating attorneys' fees based on changes to deal terms that were won in litigation: "If a pile of horse manure is subdivided by five piles of horse manure and then multiplied by the square root of 10 piles of horse manure and then added to 17 tons of horse manure, I'm pretty sure at the end of the equal sign you still got horse manure."

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