Thomas A. Cole

Thomas A. Cole

Lecturer in Law

Thomas A. Cole is Senior Counsel and Chair Emeritus of the Executive Committee of Sidley Austin LLP.  He joined the firm upon graduation from The University of Chicago Law School in 1975 and became a partner in 1981.  He retired from the full-time practice of law at the end of 2016, but continues to consult with colleagues and clients.  As a partner, he served as Vice President—Law of Northwest Industries, Inc. from 1981 to1985.  For 15 years ended in April 2013, he served as chair of the firm’s Executive Committee, the committee that exercises general authority over the affairs of the firm.

Mr. Cole focuses his practice on public company mergers and acquisitions and corporate governance. Mr. Cole is consistently recognized by Chambers USA and Chambers Global, including in their most recent editions. In 2001, Mr. Cole was recognized by Chambers Global as one of the 26 U.S. lawyers included in its list of the “Global 100 Lawyers”—“lawyers who stand out from their colleagues and are recognized internationally.” He was designated an M&A “Dealmaker of the Year” for 2007 by The American Lawyer. He was selected for BTI Consulting’s “Client Service All-Star” team in 2008, 2011 and 2014. In 2010 and 2013, he was named to “The Directorship 100,” the NACD’s list of “the most influential people in the boardroom community.”  In 2015, he was named an “M&A and Antitrust Trailblazer” by The National Law Journal.

Corporate governance assignments have included advising public company boards and their standing and special committees on a variety of subjects, including internal investigations, CEO succession, shareholder activism and proxy contests. For the five years ended 1998 and beginning again in 2013, he has taught the seminar on corporate governance at The University of Chicago Law School. Mr. Cole taught the same seminar at Harvard Law School during the Spring Semester of 2015.  His book, “CEO Leadership: Navigating the New Era in Corporate Governance” will be released by The University of Chicago Press in November 2019.

He has been involved in approximately 60 announced public company mergers, spin-offs and takeover defenses, the majority of which were valued in excess of $1 billion.

Mr. Cole has been active in many civic, charitable and professional organizations.  He is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of The University of Chicago.  He served as Chairman of the Boards of Northwestern Memorial Healthcare and Hospital.  He is a former co-chair of the Tulane Corporate Law Institute and former chair of Northwestern’s Garrett Corporate and Securities Law Institute.  In recognition of his initiatives in promoting diversity in the legal profession, he received the inaugural Thurgood Marshall Legacy Award in 2015.