Even before Meryl Streep’s Oscar for reliving the Thatcher years, 2011 brought a sense of déjà vu. There was the outsize role of the energy sector, highlighted by the year’s biggest deal, the Kinder Morgan–El Paso merger. And there were all those hostile takeovers: Many of the year’s biggest deals, see Kinder Morgan–El Paso, began with an unsolicited offer. Even the poison pill was back in court. A lawyer who went into a coma in 1985, it seemed, could wake up one day, dust off his Members Only jacket, and go back to work in the afternoon.

Or not. Dealmakers in 2011 worked on a global stage inconceivable in the eighties, handling work for buyers in South Korea and Israel, and mastering Luxembourg’s law in Microsoft’s biggest acquisition to date. Take another look at our cover subject—the lawyer from a U.S. firm who handled the biggest Internet IPO since 2004. It was for a search engine company. In Russia. Take that, Mr. Gorbachev.

Previous Dealmakers of the Year coverage :: 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008
DAVID KATZ and THOMAS ROBERTS Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz; Weil, Gotshal & Manges The year’s biggest M&A deal, the Kinder-Morgan El Paso combination, set the pace in a scorching energy sector.
LISA SCHWEITZER Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton Nortel’s groundbreaking patent auction raked in $4.5 billion and created a new model for patent-rich businesses.
ROBERT SCHUMER Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison Selling Warner Music meant presiding over a 37-bidder auction and juggling multiple exit strategies
C. DAVID GOLDMAN McDermott Will & Emery It took patience, strategy, and $1.23 billion for a pair of Korean companies to land an American golf ball icon.
DAVID FOX and JEFFREY SYMONS Kirkland & Ellis A pair of laterals oversaw an Israeli generic drugmaker’s entry into the branded pharmaceuticals sector.
LOIS HERZECA Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher Overtures from five suitors? No problem. Novel stock buyback plan? Natch. Over a tumultuous six months, Transatlantic never lost its footing.
DANIEL NEFF Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz Wachtell and the takeover defense bar see Airgas as the ultimate vindication.
MICHAEL KAPLAN Davis Polk & Wardwell The key to taking Delphi public? Simplify a complex ownership structure and bring around reluctant sellers.
ALAN KLEIN Simpson Thacher & Barlett A three-week turnaround window made timing the essential ingredient in Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype.
TIMOTHY CORBETT Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr A complicated IPO by Russia’s biggest search engine was the biggest Internet debut since Google’s.
HONORABLE MENTIONS The problem-solving lawyers won recognition for their innovative work on tough deals.


The Simpson Thacher attorney talks about the outlook for M&A.
The Cleary Gottlieb partner discusses the new power of patents.
The Kirkland partners on entering the branded pharmaceuticals sector.

Seelast year’s Dealmakers.