A New Chancellor is Honored

At this past Friday’s investiture ceremony for new Chancellor Andre Bouchard, his longtime law partner Joel Friedlander gave the following remarks, calling Bouchard, “the best Delaware lawyer of my generation.”

“Governor Markell, Senator Carper, Chief Justice Strine, members of the Court of Chancery, other members of the judiciary, all other public officials, members of the Bouchard family, invited guests, it is a great privilege to speak to you for a few minutes about the new Chancellor formerly known as Andy Bouchard.

I have been fortunate professionally in many ways, but most fortunate, I think, in having worked closely with Andy for nearly twenty years, seventeen of them as partners.

Looking back, events from the early years come into the sharpest focus.

When I was a junior associate at Skadden Arps, Andy was a senior associate.

For months he organized the effort that culminated in the trial that resulted in the lifting of the desegregation order for the school districts of Northern New Castle County. For the better part of a year, Andy oversaw the marshalling of evidence for four separate school districts going back sixteen years. He coordinated the work of several experts, he oversaw the discovery, and he second-chaired the trial, questioning several witnesses. A fellow junior associate and I marveled at how Andy was always utterly in control of the situation, and we also marveled at how many evenings he managed to leave the office by 8:30.

Don’t get me wrong. Year in, year out, Andy billed more hours than I did.

Because he worked so hard, he was not shy about asking for help.

I remember getting a call from Andy on September 30, 1997, at about 7:00 p.m. This was several weeks after the formation of Bouchard & Friedlander. He told me a draft brief had just arrived from co-counsel, it needed a lot of work and it was due the next morning. The reason I remember the date is because I was at Lankenau Hospital, and the conversation began by Andy saying, “I realize your first child was just born a few hours ago, but ….”

Now, Andy is a person of impeccable honesty, but after we worked all night and rewrote the brief, he said to our co-counsel, “I hope you don’t mind, but we moved a few things around.” Andy called that diplomacy.

There is a larger significance to the story. One of Andy’s great traits is his judgment, and one of the greatest lessons I learned from him was never to outsource your judgment to someone else:

  • Don’t make an argument just because your co-counsel or client is enamored with it.
  • Rewrite a brief if it needs to be rewritten.
  • Don’t take a case if, for any number of reasons, it doesn’t makes sense.
  • Advise the client if a course of action appears irrational.
  • Work with the client to get the case on the right track or to get it on the exit ramp.
  • If you believe in a case, see it through to its proper conclusion.

Taking a case through trial brought out the best in Andy.

In our first contingent case, I accompanied Andy for his deposition of the CEO. We thought the deposition went fine. Our opponents were not impressed. They left on the floor a note they had passed among themselves. It read, “Plaintiff hereby stipulates to the dismissal of the case with prejudice.”

A few months later we were in trial. The defense put up first the members of the special committee, which meant I had to stumble through the first cross-examinations of my career.

The day ended with the direct examination of the CFO, who offered a new defense of the transaction, supported by newly produced documents.

Back at the office, for the first and only time, I saw Andy rattled. Fortunately, we had the evening to put together a new cross examination. Trial the next morning began with Andy utterly in control of the courtroom and in control of the witness. After a few questions, the lead litigator on the defense side said in a stage whisper to his colleagues, “Good cross.” Andy’s cross-examination of the CEO went just as well.

The case settled after trial on terms that transferred control of the company from the insiders to the public stockholders.

I will pause here to offer a warning to the litigators in the audience — Chancellor Bouchard believes in the revelatory power of a pointed, direct question. Keep that in mind.

Over the years, Andy received a lot of recognition from his peers, and his name appeared on the various lists that are published annually. Andy paid that no heed. He was justifiably proud, however, to be invited to become a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, for having distinguished himself in trial practice.

When i think about Andy’s qualities as a lawyer a word comes to mind that I hesitate to mention, because it does not seem sufficiently praiseworthy.

All lawyers are required to be competent. The very first substantive rule of the Delaware Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1.1, is called “Competence.”

In one sense, competence is a minimal requirement. A lawyer who is not competent is subject to discipline.

In another sense, competence is an ideal. Rule 1.1 speaks of bringing to bear “legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation.”

In every facet of representing a client, every working minute of a day, Andy devoted himself to applying his legal knowledge and his skills with thoroughness and intense preparation.

You saw that effort in his cross-examinations and in his oral arguments. The lawyers in a case could also see it in every email he wrote. I never received an email from Andy that contained a typo.

Andy knew the successful resolution of a case could turn as much on the thoughtfulness of a succession of emails and letters, as it could on an oral argument or a brief.

In the early days when we litigated cases together, people would sometimes remark that we always seemed to be squabbling over this tactic or that argument.

In recent years, I can’t remember us disagreeing about much of anything. Our interaction on a case might consist of handing each other printouts of draft emails or draft letters to the Court – to check if we were conveying the right point and doing so with the right tone.

In preparation for today, I consulted a famous essay by John Updike about his attendance at the final game played by Ted Williams, when Williams hit a home run for his final at bat. Updike wrote that Williams “constantly brought to the plate” an “intensity of competence.”

I felt relieved reading that. If the greatest hitter of his generation can be praised by a great author for his “intensity of competence,” then there can be nothing wrong in so describing the best Delaware lawyer of my generation.

For almost twenty years, I had a front-row seat watching Andy practice law. In a sense, those twenty years were an extended apprenticeship.

I lost my front-row seat a few weeks ago, but the good news for the State of Delaware and the Court of Chancery bar is that Chancellor Bouchard is now just beginning a career in the public arena. His example, his judgment, and his intensity of competence will benefit us all.”


Joel Friedlander is a partner at Friedlander & Gorris, P.A.

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1 Comment

  • Since most lawyers are unethical and dishonest why do we need to be wasting time and money on a ceremony,wouldn’t their time have been better spent stealing from the estate of an elderly lady or shaking down a small business owner?