Andre Bouchard
Andre Bouchard ()

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell has nominated private corporate litigator Andre G. Bouchard to become the next Court of Chancery chancellor. Bouchard, the managing partner of Bouchard Margules & Friedlander, is expected to be confirmed for the chancellor vacancy that was created when former Chancellor Leo E. Strine Jr. was promoted to state Supreme Court chief justice.

The nomination was not viewed as a surprise by those in the Delaware corporate law community. Bouchard was viewed as a heavy favorite for the position since last fall when Strine applied to become chief justice.

Several corporate law analysts praised the pick, comparing Bouchard favorably to former Chancellor William B. Chandler III.

“Bouchard is an excellent choice,” said Charles Elson, director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware. “He’s an individual who is judicious in his temperament and how he approaches things. I see him in the mold of a Bill Chandler in terms of temperament. He’s very bright and very balanced.”

Lawrence A. Hamermesh, a corporate law professor at Widener University School of Law, agreed with Elson about Bouchard’s qualifications and also drew comparisons to Chandler.
”My experience with him is that he is very intellectually flexible,” Hamermesh said. “He is able to see both sides of the story and, in terms of judicial temperament, I see him as a Bill Chandler type.”

“I am very pleased with the selection and glad he was willing to do it,” Hamermesh continued.

Bouchard and David C. McBride, a partner at Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, were the only applicants who sought the opening. In fact, Delaware’s Judicial Nominating Commission, the committee charged with selecting candidates for the governor to pick his nominee, had sought to increase the applicant pool. The JNC had solicited qualified attorneys and asked them to consider applying for the opening, according to Legal sibling publication Delaware Law Weekly.

Upon graduating from Harvard Law School and being admitted to the Delaware bar in 1986, Bouchard litigated at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. He left the firm after a decade to form his own firm in 1996 with former Chancery Court Vice Chancellor Stephen P. Lamb.

Bouchard has represented the state of Delaware in several high-profile cases. He took on professional and college sports leagues in 2009 when he defended the state’s plan to institute single-game sports betting. Ultimately, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit blocked Delaware’s efforts to pad state revenue through sports gambling. He is working with the Chancery Court through all stages of litigation to maintain the court’s confidential arbitration program. The program was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and that decision was upheld by the Third Circuit. Last month, the Chancery Court petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari that is still pending.

Markell had previously appointed Bouchard as chairman of the Delaware Human Relations Commission; as vice chair of the Delaware Health Information Network; and as a member of the Governor’s Council on Equal Employment Opportunity, the Sentencing Accountability Commission and the Criminal Justice Council.

Bouchard had applied for an open judgeship on the District of Delaware in 2009. Although he was said to have made the short list of candidates submitted to President Obama, the vacancy was awarded to then-U.S. Magistrate Judge Leonard P. Stark.

If confirmed, Bouchard would be Delaware’s 21st chancellor. He still needs to be confirmed by the state’s General Assembly, but is widely expected to be approved by the state Senate. A hearing date has not yet been scheduled.

Markell said in a released statement that he is confident that Bouchard will build on Delaware’s reputation for judicial excellence.

“In nearly 30 years practicing law in Delaware, Andy Bouchard has demonstrated a remarkable ability to dissect complex legal issues and vigorously represent his clients. He is well recognized for his professionalism and ability to think quickly on his feet in the courtroom,” the governor said. “His experience establishing and growing his own small business as founder of his law firm, as well as his long career before the Court of Chancery, will give him a special appreciation for the work of the court and the many and varied litigants who would appear before him in his new role.”

Bouchard thanked Markell for the nomination in a statement released by the governor’s office.

“I am grateful and deeply honored to be nominated by Governor Markell for the position of chancellor. Having practiced in the Court of Chancery for the past 28 years, I have seen firsthand the quality of its judges and staff, and what makes this court the preeminent forum in the United States for resolving corporate and commercial disputes. It is a privilege to be nominated to serve as chancellor, and I look forward to the opportunity to serve the citizens of Delaware in this capacity if I am fortunate enough to be confirmed by the Senate,” he said.

Jeff Mordock can be contacted at 215-557-2485 or jmordock@alm.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffMordockTLI. •