Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick of the Delaware Court of Chancery recently spent a month in the media spotlight when she presided over the litigation involving Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter. She was profiled in numerous publications and applauded for her deft handling of the case.
The Wall Street Journal deemed McCormick “the most honorable character in Twitter v. Elon Musk.” The Associated Press called her “the judge who tamed the Musk-Twitter trial.” The New York Times observed, “Elon Musk seems to answer to no one. Except for a judge in Delaware.”
On November 4, McCormick — a 2004 graduate of Notre Dame Law School — returned to her alma mater to deliver the inaugural Patricia O’Hara Distinguished Lecture in Law & Business. The new lecture series is named in honor of Professor Emerita of Law Patricia O’Hara, who taught Business Associations and Securities Regulation, among other courses, as a faculty member and served as the Law School’s dean from 1999 to 2009.
“It is my great honor to celebrate what God has given us in Patty O’Hara, and to name this lecture in her honor,” said G. Marcus Cole, the Joseph A. Matson Dean and Professor of Law at Notre Dame Law School. “Professor and Dean Emerita Patty O’Hara has been a fixture at the University of Notre Dame for over 50 years and did much to elevate business law here at the Law School.”
McCormick was an ideal choice for the inaugural lecture. She was a student at Notre Dame Law School while O’Hara was dean, and she leads a court that is widely regarded as the nation’s premier forum for business litigation. With more than half of all publicly traded companies chartered in Delaware, the Court of Chancery overseen by McCormick is arguably the most important and influential business law court in the world.
She first joined the Court of Chancery as vice chancellor in 2018, and was named chancellor of the court last year. Previously, McCormick was a partner in the Delaware law firm Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, where she focused her practice on litigating internal governance and corporate disputes, primarily in the Court of Chancery. Before entering private practice, she was a staff attorney with the Delaware Community Legal Aid Society.
McCormick spoke on November 4 in the Law School’s McCartan Courtroom, which was filled with students and faculty members. The lecture was delivered under Chatham House rules.
“I am very grateful to Dean Cole and the Law School for the undeserved honor of creating an annual distinguished lecture in law and business in my name. That our own graduate, Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick, agreed to serve as the inaugural speaker set a very high bar for future years,” O’Hara said.
“I regard Chancellor McCormick as an exemplar of what we mean when we speak of educating a different kind of lawyer — from her decision during her early years of practice to serve as a staff attorney for the Delaware Community Legal Aid Society to her current public service as the leader of the premier court in the country for litigation of disputes involving the thousands of corporations and other entities that choose to organize in Delaware,” O’Hara added. “What an incredible opportunity for our students to listen to her reflections and visualize the myriad chances they will have to make a meaningful difference in their vocations as lawyers.”
Earlier in the day on November 4, McCormick took time to speak to Notre Dame Law School’s First Generation Professionals group. She talked with the students about her upbringing in Delaware as the child of two public school teachers, and being the first person in her family to go to professional school. The group also had the opportunity to ask her questions about her career path.
“It was an honor to have Chancellor McCormick come and talk to our members,” said Arlinda Shehu, a second-year law student and president of the First Generation Professionals.
“I can easily say that she impressed every single one of us. In fact, one of our members sent us a thank-you letter after the event noting that they felt ‘heartened by her story and perseverance.’ She was humble and open and shared her own difficulties as a first-generation professional, and hearing those difficulties and seeing her subsequent success was incredibly encouraging,” Shehu said. “We are so grateful that she took the time out of her busy schedule to share her wisdom and experience with us.”