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William J. Whelan III

Retired Partner, Corporate

Bill Whelan retired from Cravath’s Corporate Department in December 2019. He was a generalist corporate lawyer who advised on a broad range of corporate issues, including corporate governance and public company disclosure obligations. In addition, for over 30 years Mr. Whelan devoted a substantial amount of his time to representing issuers and investment banks in initial public offerings, high‑yield and investment grade debt offerings and follow‑on equity offerings. Mr. Whelan was named Best Lawyers’ 2012 New York City “Lawyer of the Year” for Securities/Capital Markets Law.

Mr. Whelan’s corporate clients included Benchmark Electronics, CBS, OneBeacon Insurance Group, Symetra Financial and White Mountains Insurance.

Mr. Whelan routinely represented issuers or underwriters in IPOs, including the IPOs for Aviv REIT, Diplomat Pharmacy, John Hancock, Planet Hollywood, Revlon, Schneider National, Symetra Financial and Taylor Morrison Home; other equity offerings, including for Gulfport Energy, The New Home Company, Sabra Health Care REIT, TAL International, Triple‑S Management and Zimmer Biomet Holdings; high‑yield offerings, including for CBRE Services, Gulfport Energy, Mattamy Group, Ply Gem Industries, Revlon Consumer Products, Sabra Health Care Limited Partnership and Sabra Capital Corporation, Shea Homes Limited Partnership and Shea Homes Funding Corp., Taylor Morrison Communities and Monarch Communities, TransDigm and William Lyon Homes; and in registered investment grade offerings, including for Analog Devices, Express Scripts and Zimmer.

In 2015, Mr. Whelan finished his term as the Leader of the Capital Markets practice. Prior to his work in that position, Mr. Whelan was the Firm’s Managing Partner of Administration for five years and for seven years before that was the Corporate Partner in Charge of the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) training program. In addition, he regularly gave training sessions on corporate governance, securities laws and high‑yield covenants to bankers and lawyers at the Firm’s investment banking clients. He was the primary draftsman of “Model Negotiated Covenants and Related Definitions,” published in the August 2006 edition of The Business Lawyer by the Negotiated Covenants Task Force of the American Bar Association Committee on Trust Indentures and Indenture Trustees. He was also a member of the Advisory Board of the Capital Markets Law Journal, published by Oxford University Press.

Mr. Whelan was cited as one of the country’s leading practitioners in the securities area for over a decade by, among others, Chambers USA, Chambers Global, The Legal 500, IFLR1000, The Best Lawyers in America and Lawdragon’s list of the “500 Leading Lawyers in America.” He was also named to Lawdragon’s Hall of Fame. From 2004 to 2009, Mr. Whelan chaired an annual two‑day Practising Law Institute securities law program featuring a panel of securities law experts. He also co‑authored an article, entitled “Non‑GAAP Financial Information,” for the American Bar Association publication The Practitioner’s Guide to the Sarbanes‑Oxley Act.

Mr. Whelan was born in New York, New York. He received a B.A., with distinction, from the University of Virginia in 1980 and a J.D. cum laude from Fordham University School of Law in 1983, where he was Managing Editor of the Fordham Law Review. After a clerkship with Hon. William H. Timbers of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, he joined Cravath in 1984. Mr. Whelan was elected a senior attorney in 1990 and became a partner in 1998.

Mr. Whelan serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Gregorian University Foundation, a U.S.‑based foundation established to support the Pontifical Gregorian University Consortium in Rome. The Consortium consists of three separate schools serving approximately 3,000 scholars from around the world and is considered the international center of ecumenical scholarship, Biblical research and advanced theological education for the Catholic Church. Mr. Whelan served for seven years (2009‑2016) on the Board of Directors of Good Shepherd Services, a non‑profit agency founded by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in 1947. Each year, Good Shepherd Services works with more than 20,000 New York City children, youth and families through nearly 70 programs that are designed to promote a safe passage for at‑risk youth to self sufficiency. Mr. Whelan also served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Fordham Preparatory School, a Jesuit high school for young men located in the Bronx.

Mr. Whelan may be reached by phone at +1‑212-474-1644 or by email at

+1 (212) 474-1644
+1 (212) 474-3700