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Senate confirms McCormick to lead Chancery

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DOVER – A Delaware State Senate committee confirmed Vice Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick to take over the top seat on the influential Court of Chancery on Wednesday.

Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick

McCormick will start in the new role on May 6, according to Sean O’Sullivan, a state courts spokesman. She is the first woman to serve as head of the non-jury court that hears some of the most consequential and contentious cases in corporate America.

“The Delaware Court of Chancery is Delaware’s preeminent business court, and Vice Chancellor McCormick will use her experience to make sure it’s well-prepared for the future as the next chancellor,” Gov. John Carney said in a Wednesday night statement after the Senate Executive Committee approved McCormick’s nomination.

McCormick will take over the top seat from Chancellor Andre Bouchard, who announced late last year that he would step down at the end of April after serving almost seven years of a 12-year term.

The new chancellor and the governor have a prior connection, as Carney nominated McCormick to serve as vice chancellor in 2018. Previously, she was a partner in Wilmington at Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, where her practice focused on commercial, corporate, and alternative entity litigation in the Court of Chancery.

“I am honored by the confidence that Governor Carney and the Delaware Senate have placed in me. Although I am mindful that taking the reins of a court with such a distinguished history and worldwide profile will undoubtedly have its challenges, I approach this new role with optimism and enthusiasm,” McCormick told the Delaware Business Times in a Thursday statement.

With McCormick now confirmed, the Senate will consider Carney’s nomination of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati attorney Lori W. Will to fill McCormick’s vacated vice chancellor seat.

Will has focused on corporate, commercial, and federal securities litigation, especially in the Court of Chancery, during her more than four years at the firm. Before joining Wilson Sonsini, Will was a senior associate in the litigation department of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and served as a law clerk to then-Vice Chancellor Leo E. Strine Jr., who would later serve as chief justice of the Delaware Supreme Court.

With the Court of Chancery being the home venue to the legal disputes for the state’s more than 1 million legal incorporations, any appointments to the bench are scrutinized by corporate America. It is the judges, who are expected to have a large degree of business litigation experience, and not juries who hear the cases that involve shareholders, executives, and corporate boards.

The Chancery judiciary has seen several changing faces in the past two years. After Carney appointed Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Collins J. Seitz Jr. in 2019, he nominated then-Vice Chancellor Tamika Montgomery-Reeves to fill Seitz’s vacated seat on the state’s top court. Replacing Montgomery-Reeves was Paul A. Fioravanti Jr., who joined the Court of Chancery last year.

The court’s other vice chancellors are Travis Laster, Sam Glasscock III, Joseph Slights III, and Morgan Zurn.

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