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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Igor Kirman excels in advising public and private companies in complex and high-value corporate matters including M&A, joint ventures and private equity deals.

Questions & Answers

Igor Kirman focuses on mergers and acquisitions, activism and takeover defence. He is a frequent speaker and writer and has won numerous awards, including being twice named Dealmaker of the Year by American Lawyer (2006 and 2015). Mr Kirman is the author of the book M&A and Private Equity Confidentiality Agreements, and teaches as an adjunct at Columbia Law School, from which he has a JD. He received a BA from Yale University in 1993.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST INTERESTING CASE TO DATE AND WHY?

There is something exhilarating about a takeover defence victory, so two that I have particularly enjoyed were the 2012 defence of Vulcan Materials against Martin Marietta, and the 2015 defence of Perrigo against Mylan. They were very different situations, but both were total war, requiring long hours and creative thinking. We broke a lot of new ground in both cases. And we didn’t know whether we would win or lose, until the end. During the Vulcan defence, I signed my emails with “Defense Wins Championships”. It was a happy day when we won and I could return to normal emails.

HOW HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE AS AN IMMIGRANT TO THE US, AND WORKING AT DIFFERENT LAW FIRMS, ENHANCED YOUR M&A PRACTICE?

It has widened my lens by showing me perspectives that I would not have otherwise seen. I came to the US at age eight from the USSR, and grew up in the shadows of the “old country”. English was a new language, America was a new culture. Assimilating a new way of life was an effort. But it made me comfortable with all sorts of people. And I had a mini-immigration story because I worked at Sullivan & Cromwell for my first three years. It did two things for me: it made me appreciate that the legal world is big and there are terrific lawyers all over the place; and it also made me appreciate the unique attributes of Wachtell perhaps even more than if I had started here.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CURRENT ROLE?

I love the variety of what I get to do, both in the types of industries I work on and the kinds of matters I touch. But also in the roles I get to play – negotiator, drafter and interpreter of the law, but also psychologist, hand-holder and comedian. And I love to teach, so it’s a treat to take the time and invest in our future. And perhaps best of all? It’s being surrounded by a sea of incredible talent and feeling like I’m a “prince among kings”.

YOU HAVE BEEN AT SOME OF THE WORLD’S BEST M&A FIRMS. HOW DOES WACHTELL LIPTON ROSEN & KATZ DISTINGUISH ITSELF FROM THE COMPETITION IN THE MARKET?

Through the concentration of talent and having the deepest bench of any firm out there. One compliment I hear often from our clients is how impressed they are with the entirety of the team. That’s usually not about the lawyer at the top of the relationship, but about those up and down the chain.

WHAT IMPACT HAS THE PROLIFERATION OF M&A LAWYERS IN THE PAST 20 YEARS HAD ON THE PRACTICE? HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR EDGE IN THIS COMPETITIVE FIELD OF LAW?

When I started my practice more than 20 years ago, there weren’t that many firms that had even a single lawyer with 20 years of M&A experience. Now, there are dozens of firms who do, and their number is growing yearly. That, and the proliferation of electronic databases that have given easy access to PLC’s “What’s Market”, have led some to conclude that the M&A business is becoming commoditised. But while that is happening at the margins, the core M&A service still depends as much on “art” as it does on “science”. There is no area of practice that relies as much on having good judgement.

YOUR FIRM IS ONE WHERE M&A PRACTITIONERS REMAIN GENERALISTS, RATHER THAN SPECIALISTS. WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES AND ADVANTAGES OF GENERALISATION IN THIS AREA?

We are fortunate to be able to work in a broad speciality like M&A. Not having tightly compartmentalised practice areas means we have to be intellectual omnivores, ranging from one area of law to the next, one industry to the next, and so on. It requires a lot of switching – one day you are working on a private equity transaction in the energy space; the next you are doing a public company pharma deal; and the day after you are dealing with a corporate governance crises. Seeing different things allows us to be more creative in finding (borrowing?) solutions to legal issues. But there is a cost to lack of specialisation: once in a while, when I have a hard securities law question, it would be nice to call up a colleague and just ask!

WHAT CAN YOU TELL ABOUT A LAWYER’S WORK STYLE AND HOW THEY PROCESS INFORMATION BY LOOKING AT THEIR DESK?

A lot, I think. I will confess that my desk is messy. Even after I clean it. I don’t know how those with spotless desks do it; it scares me, but I applaud them. I blame my own mess on throughput, and my love affair with paper. But as with chaos theory, I believe there is order in my disorder. The papers and piles allow me to prioritise (some might say procrastinate) and to focus on the most important things first, even if it means I have to interrupt my flow to start on something else.

YOU HAVE HAD A VERY DISTINGUISHED CAREER TO DATE. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO ACHIEVE THAT YOU HAVE NOT ALREADY?

I don’t want to undershoot and pick something that I can achieve. Then what? But if I pick something out of reach, then I’ll look back at this and feel like a failure. Then again, maybe a clean desk would be nice.

Global Leader

Corporate Governance 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Igor Kirman is commended for his deep understanding of takeover defence matters and shareholder activism. 

Biography

Igor Kirman is a partner in the corporate department at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, where he focuses primarily on mergers and acquisitions, activism and takeover defence, corporate governance and general corporate matters. He has advised public and private companies, as well as private equity funds, in connection with mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, leveraged buyouts, joint ventures, cross-border deals, shareholder activism, takeover defences and corporate governance matters.

Mr Kirman is a frequent speaker at professional conferences, and has written articles in numerous professional publications on topics relating to mergers and acquisitions and corporate governance. He has been frequently recognised for achievement by professional organisations such as Chambers USA, New York Super Lawyers, Who’s Who Legal and Best Lawyers in America. He was twice named as Dealmaker of the Year by American Lawyer (2006 and 2015).

Mr Kirman is the author of a book M&A and Private Equity Confidentiality Agreements (Aspatore). He is the chair of the Practising Law Institute’s annual “Doing Deals” programme in New York and teaches a course on mergers and acquisitions as an adjunct at Columbia Law School. He also serves on the advisory board of the Practical Law Company and on the mergers and acquisitions advisory board of Strafford Publications.

Mr Kirman received a BA in ethics, politics and economics magna cum laude from Yale University in 1993. He completed his JD at Columbia Law School in 1996, where he was notes editor of the Columbia Law Review. His student note, "Standing Apart to be a Part: The Precedential Value of Supreme Court Concurring Opinions", 95 Colum. L. Rev. 2083 (1995), was selected as the winner of a national writing competition and awarded the Scribes Law Review Writing Award.

Mr Kirman is a member of the American Bar Association, where he serves on the committee on mergers and acquisitions (and is a member of its financial adviser task force) and the committee on private equity and venture capital; and is a member of the New York City Bar Association. He is involved in a number of civic institutions, and serves on the advisory board of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and is a trustee of the Trinity School. He was born in Ukraine and speaks Russian.

M&A 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Igor Kirman is regarded a top name in the US market for corporate M&A, thanks to his market-leading work on complex transactions. 

Biography

Igor Kirman is a partner in the corporate department at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, where he focuses primarily on mergers and acquisitions, activism and takeover defence, corporate governance and general corporate matters. He has advised public and private companies, as well as private equity funds, in connection with mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, leveraged buyouts, joint ventures, cross-border deals, shareholder activism, takeover defences and corporate governance matters.

Mr Kirman is a frequent speaker at professional conferences, and has written articles in numerous professional publications on topics relating to mergers and acquisitions and corporate governance. He has been frequently recognised for achievement by professional organisations such as Chambers USA, New York Super Lawyers, Who’s Who Legal and Best Lawyers in America. He was twice named as Dealmaker of the Year by American Lawyer (2006 and 2015).

Mr Kirman is the author of a book M&A and Private Equity Confidentiality Agreements (Aspatore). He is the chair of the Practising Law Institute’s annual “Doing Deals” programme in New York and teaches a course on mergers and acquisitions as an adjunct at Columbia Law School. He also serves on the advisory board of the Practical Law Company and on the mergers and acquisitions advisory board of Strafford Publications.

Mr Kirman received a BA in ethics, politics and economics magna cum laude from Yale University in 1993. He completed his JD at Columbia Law School in 1996, where he was notes editor of the Columbia Law Review. His student note, "Standing Apart to be a Part: The Precedential Value of Supreme Court Concurring Opinions", 95 Colum. L. Rev. 2083 (1995), was selected as the winner of a national writing competition and awarded the Scribes Law Review Writing Award.

Mr Kirman is a member of the American Bar Association, where he serves on the committee on mergers and acquisitions (and is a member of its financial adviser task force) and the committee on private equity and venture capital; and is a member of the New York City Bar Association. He is involved in a number of civic institutions, and serves on the advisory board of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and is a trustee of the Trinity School. He was born in Ukraine and speaks Russian.

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