Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court of the United States, 1998 – 1999
Honorable Pierre N. Leval, United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, 1997 – 1998
William Savitt is the co-chair of the Litigation Department of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. His practice focuses on representing corporations and directors in litigation involving mergers and acquisitions, proxy contests, corporate governance disputes, class actions involving allegations of breach of fiduciary duty and regulatory enforcement actions relating to corporate transactions. Mr. Savitt writes and speaks extensively on corporate and securities law topics and is an adjunct law professor at Columbia Law School in the field of transactional litigation.
Mr. Savitt has played a leading role in high-stakes corporate governance and merger-and-acquisitions litigation in the Delaware Court of Chancery and in courts around the country. Mr. Savitt represented Twitter in successful litigation against Elon Musk when Musk sought to terminate his $44 billion merger agreement, compelling the deal close on its agreed terms in October 2022. Also in 2022, Mr. Savitt represented Boardwalk Pipelines in an appeal from the largest class-action damages award ever granted by a Delaware court, persuading the court to reverse the trial court order and eliminate the damages award. Among other recent engagements, Mr. Savitt successfully litigated the landmark case of Corwin v. KKR Financial in the Court of Chancery and the Delaware Supreme Court; defended Allergan in response to a hostile bid from Pershing Square and Valeant; defended Sothebys’ shareholder rights plan against an activist investor attack; was lead trial counsel in the successful and unprecedented litigation effort of Vulcan Materials Company to obtain a court order enjoining an attempted hostile takeover by an industry rival; has defended corporate bylaw and charter provisions in courts around the country; has tried numerous M&A cases to successful verdict; and was lead attorney in the United States and Canada in Lions Gate Entertainment’s successful multi-national defense of Carl Icahn’s takeover attempt. Mr. Savitt is a recognized authority on multi-jurisdictional corporate litigation and has defended numerous corporate merger and class action fiduciary challenges in Delaware, New York, California and elsewhere, including recent successful defenses of the New York Stock Exchange’s merger with the InterContinental Exchange, the going-private sale of Dell, Inc. and the merger between Saks Fifth Avenue and Hudson’s Bay Company.
Mr. Savitt graduated magna cum laude from Brown University and received a M.Phil. from Columbia University in European legal history. He graduated from Columbia Law School in 1997, where he was editor-in-chief of the Columbia Law Review. Upon graduation from law school, Mr. Savitt served as a law clerk to the Honorable Pierre N. Leval of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit for the 1997 term and to the Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court of the United States for the October 1998 term. Among other professional recognitions, Mr. Savitt has been named by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business as a “Band One” leading securities litigator, by Lawdragon as one of the 500 leading lawyers in the United States, by Benchmark Litigation as a “litigation star” (including recent induction into Benchmark Litigation’s Hall of Fame), and as a a leading authority in the International Who’s Who of Corporate Governance. He is a member of the American Law Institute, the Board of Directors of the New York Legal Aid Society and the Board of Trustees of the Columbia Law Review, Inc., and is a past executive director of Interfaith Hunger Appeal, a New York-based international hunger relief organization.
- Caremark Exposure—And What to Do About It,
in NYU Law School’s Blog on Compliance and Enforcement, January 31, 2023.
- Cross-Border M&A - 2023 Checklist for Successful Acquisitions in the United States,
in Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, January 7, 2023.
- Risk Management and the Board of Directors,
in Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, September 17, 2022.
- Expanding on the SEC’s Proposal to Modernize Section 13(d) and (g) Beneficial Ownership Reporting,
in Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, April 14, 2022.
- The Corporate Governance Review,
U.S. chapter, Law Business Research, London, Twelfth ed. 2022 (Tenth ed. 2020, Ninth ed. 2019, Eighth ed. 2018, Seventh ed. 2017, Sixth ed. 2016, Fifth ed. 2015, Fourth ed. 2014, Third ed. 2013, Second ed. 2012, First ed. 2011).
- Cross-Border M&A – 2022 Checklist for Successful Acquisitions in the United States,
in Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, January 22, 2022.
- REIT M&A and Strategy in 2022,
January 3, 2022.
- Corporate Sustainability and ESG,
in Business and Commercial Litigation in the Federal Courts, Robert L. Haig, ed., Thomson Reuters, Fifth ed. 2021.
- Mergers and Acquistions,
in Commercial Litigation in the New York Courts, Robert L. Haig, ed., Thomson Reuters, Fifth ed. 2021.
- Court of Chancery Upholds Enforcement of Advance Notice Bylaw,
in Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, October 20, 2021.
- Delaware Supreme Court Announces New Demand Futility Test,
in Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, September 28, 2021 and Columbia Law School’s Blog on Corporations and the Capital Markets, October 1, 2021.
- Some Personal Reflections on Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Contribution to Business Law,
in 121 Colum. L. Rev. 623 (2021).
- Delaware Supreme Court Eliminates “Dual-Natured” Direct and Derivative Claims,
in Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, September 23, 2021.
- Vermont’s Fossil Fuel Suit Underscores Climate-Change Pressures Faced by U.S. Companies,
in Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, September 17, 2021.
- Boeing’s MAX Woes Reach the Boardroom,
in Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, September 13, 2021 and Columbia Law School’s Blog on Corporations and the Capital Markets, September 14, 2021.
- More Myths from Lucian Bebchuk,
in Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, August 24, 2021 and Columbia Law School’s Blog on Corporations and Capital Markets, August 25, 2021.