Delaware Chancellor visits Widener law class
Public Relations - Published: March 6, 2013
A seminar of about a dozen students had a surprise visitor recently who shared valuable insight into his work leading one of the nation’s most renowned courts.

Delaware Chancery Court Chancellor Leo E. Strine, Jr. dropped in on the Friday, March 1 afternoon seminar “Litigating the Corporate Case” taught by adjunct Professor Kurt Heyman, a founding partner of Proctor Heyman LLP in Wilmington, Del. Strine spent nearly two hours talking with the class about everything from the impact of electronic communication and its effects on lawyers’ professional lives, to how he prepares for motion hearings with an eye for ruling from the bench whenever possible.

“Working hard in advance lets you spot the opportunities where you can rule and keep people moving,” he said. “I’m human. I don’t have an unlimited capacity to write decisions.”

Under Heyman’s leadership, students in the seminar are studying KFC National Council and Advertising Cooperative Inc. vs. KFC Corp. from start to finish this semester, with a focus on practical and strategic thinking about real-life cases that is not often taught in law school. Heyman was lead Delaware counsel representing the interests of the U.S. Kentucky Fried Chicken franchisees in their 2010 dispute with the franchisor over control of the chain’s national advertising program.

The students have been instructed not to read the final decision in the case until the end of class.

Strine presided over the case, and he spoke candidly with students on how it went. Heyman has also arranged for the students to hear, in person, from his opposing counsel in the case, Kenneth J. Nachbar of Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP, who represented the franchisor, and other guest speakers.

“Chancellor Strine is the chief judge of the nation’s most renowned business trial court,” said Ruby R. Vale Professor of Corporate and Business Law Lawrence A. Hamermesh, who directs Widener’s Institute of Delaware Corporate and Business Law. “His visit provided our students with invaluable insight. This was an opportunity practitioners at the largest corporate firms, handling billion-dollar cases, would envy. We are grateful for his contribution to the seminar, and to Professor Heyman for making it all happen.”

“This class is fundamentally about what makes practicing law in Delaware, and in particular the Court of Chancery, a special thing,” Heyman said. “The fact that a renowned jurist like Chancellor Strine would take time from his busy schedule to speak to a dozen students speaks volumes about the professionalism, civility and camaraderie in the Delaware bar – even when we find ourselves on opposite sides of the case or opposite sides of the bench. I am grateful to Professor Hamermesh and Widener Law for allowing me to teach this seminar, and to Chancellor Strine and others for their support. This is a great bunch of hard-working and intelligent students, and they are making my foray into teaching a joy."