CLS Blue Sky Blog

A Judge With the Confidence to Go in New Directions

Bill Allen was an extraordinary person – a great judge who recalibrated Delaware fiduciary law at a critical junction in its history; an enthusiastic and enlightening teacher who engaged with students who were not even born when he had already written Time/Warner, Caremark, and Interco; a convivial lunch companion despite his intellectually rigorous approach to law and life; a person of rock-ribbed integrity but also compassion; and, certainly not least,  a loving and well-loved husband and father.  And he was a true stoic – achieving all this while dealing with  difficult medical issues.  His courage extended to never being afraid to re-invent himself; from corporate lawyer to Chancellor in Wilmington; from Chancellor to Professor of Law in New York; to starting a family late in life.  As in his opinions, he always had the confidence to go in new directions.

The opinions written by “WTA,” for which he will be long remembered, were written not only with love for the law, but love for the words in which law is created and transmitted.  His unforgettable phrases (the valuation range “wide enough to make a Texan feel at home” and many more) are not only accurate, but written with wry wit.  It was apparent to any reader that the words in his opinions were written with care, with concern for clarity but also capturing nuance when required; and at times with the delight that comes from unraveling a legal mystery with the strong light that illuminates an area previously shrouded in abstraction.

The full range of Bill’s intellect and personality was also expressed in his table talk.  An enormous range of topics interested him, from the culture of China (where he spent half a year teaching); the latest Twitter war over a scandal de jour; the history and teachings of western religions, Catholic, Protestant and Jewish; Weimar hyperinflation and Minsky Moments; the differences between judging and teaching now and four decades ago.

All this made Bill a wonderful and dear friend.  May his memory be a blessing to all, as was his life.

Theodore N. Mirvis and Paul K. Rowe are partners in the New York law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

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