At the Virtual Section Annual Meeting in September 2021, Jeannie Frey, chair of the Business Law Section, awarded Wilson Chu, immediate past chair of the Section’s Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) Committee, the prestigious “Section’s Chair Award,” which honors members who have made exceptional contributions to the Section and the legal profession.
In her presentation remarks, Frey identified Chu’s leadership skills and his ability to remain “cool and unflappable” under any situation as key components in selecting him for this award. His stewardship as chair of the M&A Committee, noted Frey, demonstrated his commitment to the Section, its members, and the practice of law.
“Wilson brought enthusiasm and creativity to his role as chair of the Mergers & Acquisitions Committee,” said Joel I. Greenberg, partner at Arnold & Porter and a former chair of the M&A Committee. “He was constantly looking for ways to promote the Committee and bring increased value to its members, despite having the bad fortune of serving nearly half of his term during a worldwide pandemic.”
According to Frey, Chu’s accomplishments were impressive—and numerous. He paved the way for M&A to host a major conference; oversaw another Deal Points Study; produced more video content for the M&A Market Check Series; and continued to strengthen the Section’s largest substantive committee.
“Wilson has been a major contributor to the success of the M&A Committee for many years,” said Scott T. Whittaker, partner at Stone Pigman Walther Wittman L.L.C. “It was fortuitous for the M&A Committee that the pandemic coincided with Wilson’s tenure as Chair, because the Committee was able to thrive, despite the lack of in-person meetings, in large part due to his creativity and enthusiasm.”
Whittaker, who also served as chair of the M&A Committee, believes that the key to the long-term success of the Committee is the continuing contributions of its long-term members, combined with a culture that welcomes new members. “Wilson has continued to build on that tradition, which has not only kept the Committee in the forefront of thought leadership in the field of M&A, yet allows for many of our newer Committee members to enhance their personal profiles through Committee involvement.”
M&A Energized and Thriving
Leigh Walton, partner at Bass, Berry & Sims, characterized Chu as one of the most energetic chairs of the M&A Committee since its founding. Chu was also the force behind the debut of new programs, such as M&A Market Check Series in collaboration with Hotshot, and Walton predicts that this new member offering will have a profound impact on the Committee and the Section in years to come. “His emphasis on new, younger and diverse members will serve us well,” said Walton. “I cannot imagine we could have chosen a more capable leader for the last three years.”
If innovation and leadership are hallmarks of Wilson Chu’s tenure as chair, his uncanny ability to “make things happen” must also be added as an underlining theme for all his years in serving the Section. Chu was one of the founding members of the Market Trends Subcommittee that led to the creation of the Deal Points Study—one of the crown jewels of content at the ABA.
Michael O’Bryan, who succeeded Chu as chair of the M&A Committee in September, credits him with a long history of bringing energy and ideas to the M&A Committee and to the M&A profession. “It will be a challenge keeping up with Wilson,” he noted. “Wilson brought our Committee through a difficult transition and got us to a great place.”
Chu’s work has not only been confined to M&A. He also has a liaison role to the Section’s Sponsor Board; and he has helped the Section in identifying the value of Section/Committee membership and increasing the profile of events. In fact, at the Section’s Spring meeting in April 2021, Chu was able to finesse an interview with entrepreneur Mark Cuban that centered on issues relevant to our members.
Section Involvement Leads to Engagement
“As a former chair of the M&A Committee (back when it was called the Committee on Negotiated Acquisitions), I appreciate how much time and effort Wilson’s role has taken up,” said Richard Climan, partner at Hogan Lovells. “His creative thinking and seemingly boundless energy have made him a standout in this role, and his ability to navigate the stresses of the COVID pandemic has made his tenure as chair particularly memorable. He is widely admired and respected among active Committee members.”
As he accepted the award, Chu remarked that he was often asked why he would devote his limited free time to Section and Committee activities and projects. “The answer is simple,” said Chu. “It gives me the opportunity to meet people and to learn from them.”
The Section and its members, especially young lawyers, have indeed learned from Wilson, and will continue to benefit from his skills as a dealmaker.
“Wilson is steadfastly loyal to the idea of making things better than he finds them,” said Chauncey M. Lane, partner at ReedSmith LLP in Dallas. “This is the impact he has had as leader within the Business Law Section and the Mergers and Acquisitions Committee.”