Rodman Ward, Jr.

Lucian Bebchuk is the James Barr Ames Professor of Law, Economics, and Finance and Director of the Program on Corporate Governance at Harvard Law School. Leo E. Strine, Jr. is the Michael L. Wachter Distinguished Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School; Senior Fellow, Harvard Program on Corporate Governance; Of Counsel, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz; and former Chief Justice and Chancellor, the State of Delaware.

On March 18, 2023, the corporate law and corporate governance communities lost a special person special.  Rodman Ward, Jr. graduated from Harvard Law School in 1959.  He was a distinguished partner in the Wilmington law firm of Prickett, Ward, Burt & Sanders for many years, during which he was one of Delaware’s leading corporate litigators and commercial lawyers.

During the 1970’s, Rod became the go-to Delaware litigator for a rising firm named Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, and Joe Flom asked Rod to leave his successful practice and head the first office of Skadden outside of New York, which Rod did for many years.

During this formative period of Delaware takeover law, Rod and the Skadden Wilmington office were at the center of many of the era’s key takeover cases.   Among other matters, Rod argued and won the iconic case of Mills Acquisition Co. v. Macmillan, Inc., 559 A.2d 1261 (1988).  To Rod’s delight, his convincing advocacy in that case led his adversary to mutter Henry II’s lament, “will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest.”

As leader of Skadden’s Wilmington office, Rod was committed to and invested in mentoring first-rate lawyers.  Among those whose early careers were shaped by the office Rod led were several members of the Delaware Supreme Court and Court of Chancery,  members of the federal judiciary, and other distinguished public servants.  Not only that, Wilmington Ward-era alums include several of the nation’s most respected corporate and securities law scholars, as well as influential corporate lawyers not just at Skadden itself, but at other leading firms and corporations. Rod’s understated charisma, loyalty, and mentorship were what drew together this unique talent pool and nurtured its full potential.

All the while, Rod was an exemplary lawyer-citizen, contributing to innumerable charitable causes, serving in leading Bar and corporate law positions, and co-chairing the Courts 2000 initiative for Chief Justice Veasey and Governor Carper.

For the loyal readers of the Forum, we would like to note a contribution for which Rod never sought personal credit.  When the idea of an online forum to exchange ideas and insights in the corporate governance field, Rod engaged CSC, Corporation Service Company —whose amazing success his vision personally catalyzed — to provide crucial financial and information technology support for the Forum’s founding and first years of operation, and Rod himself provided important advice and encouragement.

There is much more we could say about this exemplary HLS grad and corporate lawyer, a uniquely charming, witty, and wonderful person. But right now, let us just say that we are grateful to have known Rod, that we appreciate all he did to serve his community, to uphold the best values of the legal profession, and to help this blog become successful.  We extend our profound condolences to and mourn with Rod’s friends and family and know that they cherish, as we do, their memories of this special man.

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