Partner, Sidley Austin LLP
Kai Liekefett co-chairs Sidley’s Shareholder Activism & Corporate Defense Practice. He has over 20 years of experience in New York, London, Germany, Hong Kong and Tokyo. In the last 5 years, Kai has defended over 80 proxy contests, more than any other defense attorney in the world, and 25% all of U.S. proxy fights that went all the way.
Under Kai’s leadership, Sidley rose to the top of all activism defense league tables, including the No. 1 rankings by Bloomberg, FactSet, Refinitiv (formerly Thomson Reuters) and Activist Insight for 2020. Kai has been named “2019 Dealmaker of the Year” by The American Lawyer. In 2021, Chambers USA ranked him as a Top 3 leading attorney for “Takeover Defense”, lauding Kai as “terrific lawyer” who is “bright, articulate and good with boards,” “very creative in terms of tactics” as well as “equally adept in front of a board as well as opposite an activist” and “great at getting things done and obtaining great results”. Moreover, he was selected as one of theLawdragon 500 “Leading Dealmakers in America” in 2021. In 2020, Kai was elected as a fellow of The American College of Governance Counsel, the honorary association of lawyers widely recognized for their achievements in the field of governance.
Kai sits on the board of the New York Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) and the Law360 Mergers & Acquisitions Editorial Board. He speaks regularly on panels and at universities around the world, including Harvard University and Frankfurt School of Finance & Management. He is frequently interviewed and quoted as a thought leader by the media, including CNN, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, The New York Times, Bloomberg, Reuters, Financial Times, USA Today, Forbes, Law360 and The Deal.
Kai holds a Ph.D., magna cum laude, from Freiburg University; an Executive MBA, summa cum laude (best of class), from Muenster Business School; and an LL.M., James Kent Scholar, from Columbia Law School. He was in the top 0.1% nationwide in his First Legal State Exam (J.D. equivalent) and in the top 1.5% nationwide in his Second Legal State Exam in Germany.