April 13, 2017
More than 600 lawyers, bankers and other professionals spent two days talking dealmaking at Tulane’s 29th Annual Corporate Law Institute March 30-31.
Tulane Corporate Law Institute co-chair Eileen Nugent, global co-head of transactions at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in New York, gets the first day of panels started on March 30.
Though a Louisiana-style downpour deluged New Orleans streets the first morning of Tulane’s Corporate Law Institute, the mood was sunny among the 600-plus lawyers, bankers and other professionals talking deal making inside the Roosevelt Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
Kurt Simon, J.P. Morgan’s global chairman of mergers and acquisitions, predicted the first $100 billion all-cash corporate purchase. Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Leo E. Strine Jr. cracked a joke about a moonshot to eradicate male-pattern baldness. And The New York Times’ Michael de la Merced reported afterward about a consensus among attendees that “under the Trump presidency, deal making should boom.”
Now in its 29th year, the Tulane Law conference has emerged as the most influential event of its kind in the M&A world, drawing together Wall Street lawyers, investment bankers, business reporters, scholars and Delaware judges. The event has set attendance records for each of the past five years as it has become virtually a must-attend event.
In an April 2 DealBook column, de la Merced called it “the year’s pre-eminent gathering of mergers advisers, a Davos for the dealmaker set” (a reference to the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Switzerland) and a prime opportunity for networking: “whether over butter-laden gulf fish at Galatoire’s or sherried turtle soup at Commander’s Palace or at the high-roller poker tables at Harrah’s.”
SEE A CONFERENCE PHOTO ALBUM.
Eileen Nugent, global co-head of transactions at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in New York, said the conference attracts professionals “at the top of their game” and is unique in its mix of lawyers, bankers, proxy solicitors and M&A reporters.
“It’s important for these kinds of high-level professionals to have this chance to get together,” said Nugent, who co-chairs the conference along with Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz partner David A. Katz and Donald Wolfe, a partner at Potter Anderson Corroon in Wilmington, Delaware.
Outspoken and entertaining, Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Leo Strine (center) is a key attraction at Tulane’s Corporate Law Institute.
Some attendees return every year, like Steve Lipin, a former reporter who’s now a partner at Brunswick Group, an international corporate communications firm. He said other schools host conferences but “none that have the tradition, the influence, the quality of both the speakers and the audience” that Tulane brings together.
Fishman Haygood partner Louis Fishman (L ’65) helped found the Corporate Law Institute with Andrew G.T. Moore II (L ’60), Delaware Supreme Court’s chief justice in 1982-94. The conference was one of the first of its size held in New Orleans after the damage of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the event has continued to grow, hitting a record-setting attendance this year of more than 600.
The panels are deeply detailed discussions of topics from current issues in private equity to protecting confidentiality as deals develop involving public companies. With a majority of Fortune 500 companies incorporating in Delaware, discussions involving judges from the Supreme Court and Chancery Court always are popular. And a recurring panel featuring reporters from the major media outlets draws a packed crowd even first thing on a Friday morning.
David Faber, co-anchor of CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” said the event gives reporters a chance to learn, cement relationships and get a sense of what people in the industry are talking about.
“These opportunities are not that frequent, where you can get this many people together from the M&A community,” he said.
For the first time, this year’s institute featured an academic tie-in on the Tulane campus, with a symposium organized by Tulane Law Professor Ann Lipton featuring 11 of the country’s top corporate and securities scholars on the future of securities litigation in the Trump era.
“The Tulane Corporate Law Institute is a major asset for the law school,” Dean David Meyer said. “It provides extraordinary networking and learning opportunities for our students and showcases the strength of Tulane Law’s business law faculty.”
Note: This story was updated on April 17, 2017.