T. Boone Pickens,
DELAWARE CORPORATE LITIGATOR
GREG WILLIAMS REPRESENTS BUSINESS TITANS
BY AIMEE GROTH
PHOTOGRAPHY BY LUIGI CIUFFETELLI
GREG WILLIAMS ONCE NEARLY LOST
his job at a fast food joint. He was working at
Gino’s, a chain that sold burgers and Kentucky
Fried Chicken, to pay his way through college
at the University of Delaware.
“I was mouthing off,” he says, “and the
assistant manager says to me, ‘The door
swung open for you to come in, and it’ll
swing open for you to leave.’ Nobody’s
indispensable. Any institution or business
can get along without you.”
That may have been true then. But
today, some of the nation’s best-known
businesses wouldn’t be able to get along
Williams is a director at Richards, Layton
& Finger, where he’s worked for 30 years,
and chairs its corporate department.
That makes him a regular presence in the
Delaware Court of Chancery—and one of
the top corporate litigators in the country.
He represents corporations whose earnings
are closely watched on the New York Stock
Exchange: Citigroup Inc., J. Crew Group, Inc.,
JPMorgan Chase & Co., The Walt Disney Co.
He’s also shared the courtroom floor with
some of the biggest names in capitalism,
including businessman Michael Eisner,
billionaire mogul Ronald Burkle and Leonard
Riggio, chairman of Barnes & Noble.
It’s a career he never imagined during
his five-year stint in fast food. “I grew up
in a very blue-collar background,” says
Williams, whose home was 20 minutes
south of Wilmington.
His mother was a nurse, and his father
was a technician for DuPont, then a
dominant corporate presence in the state,
where his grandfather also worked. His two
brothers went into law enforcement, and
Williams became the first in his family to
graduate from college.
He just wanted to succeed. “I started as
a pre-med major, but after one semester,
I met with an adviser who told me, ‘With
these grades’—I had a 3. 4 GPA—‘You’ll
have to go offshore.’ So I went and found
the pre-law office.”
His decision to pursue corporate law was
just as fortuitous.
“In my second year of law school [at
the College of William and Mary], I was
taking a corporations case-law course, and
I noticed that 90 percent of these cases
were from Delaware,” Williams says. “I
went to my professor and asked about it.
I didn’t understand that most cases came
from here—and that I came from a special
place in terms of law.”