Partner, Sidley Austin LLP
Derek Zaba is a partner in the Palo Alto and New York offices and co-chairs Sidley’s Shareholder Activism practice. He counsels companies on a variety of matters, including activism defense/proxy contests, activism preparedness, takeover defenses, shareholder engagement and corporate governance. Over the past two decades, he has been involved in dozens of activist campaigns and proxy contests in various advisory and principal capacities. Prior to Sidley, Derek was the head of the activism defense practice at a leading shareholder
engagement and corporate governance advisory firm. He also served as a Partner and investment professional at activist and event driven hedge funds. Derek began his career as a corporate associate at a New York-based law firm.
Derek’s clients are located worldwide with sizes across the spectrum of market capitalizations. He has helped dozens of public companies successfully navigate activist situations worldwide and has counseled management teams and directors on hundreds of engagements with proxy advisory firms and institutional investors relating to shareholder activism, contested M&A, corporate governance and other matters. He has defended against the vast majority of top tier activist hedge funds, as well as many others including one time and occasional activists.
Derek has been recognized in the 2021 edition of Chambers USA as a leading lawyer in Corporate/M&A: Takeover Defense with clients noting, “He speaks to the board in a way that makes sense. He’s really good.” He is a highly sought after speaker for panels on the topics of shareholder activism and related matters, is frequently quoted and regularly speaks on the topic of shareholder activism.
He holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School, where he graduated Order of the Coif; an MBA from the Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis, concentrating in Finance; and a bachelor’s degree in Systems Science and Mathematics, cum laude, from the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis. While at Washington University, he led university teams that won the highest award at the Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications (COMAP) international Mathematical Contest in Modelling in consecutive years.
Derek is a member of the State Bars of California and New York.