KAI LIEKEFETT is a partner in New York and co-chairs Sidley’s Shareholder Activism and Corporate Defense practice. He has over 20 years of experience in corporate law. He spends 100% of his time on shareholder activism campaigns, proxy fights and hostile takeovers. In the past five years, Kai has defended over 100 proxy contests, more than any other defense attorney in the world, and approximately 25% of all late-stage proxy fights in the U.S.
Under Kai’s leadership, Sidley rose to the top of all shareholder activism defense league tables, including No. 1 rankings by Bloomberg, FactSet, and Refinitiv as recently as 2022. Sidley has also been ranked in Band 1 for “Takeover Defense” by Chambers USA in 2022 and The Legal 500 in the U.S. for “Shareholder Activism – Advice to Boards” in 2023. The Firm was recognized by The Deal as “Activist Defense Law Firm of the Year (Large Cap)” in 2021 and 2022.
Kai has been named “2019 Dealmaker of the Year” by The American Lawyer for Sidley’s groundbreaking Wynn Resorts proxy contest. He was selected for the 2022 NACD Directorship 100 as a Governance Professional. In each of the past seven years, Chambers USA has recognized Kai as one of the leading lawyers for Takeover Defense, ranking him among the top three defense attorneys in the country in 2022 and stating that he “brings a level of creativity and innovation to his client work that often changes industry practices.” He was selected as one of the Lawdragon 500 “Leading Dealmakers in America” in 2021 and 2022. 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 is a member of the Law360 Mergers & Acquisitions Editorial Board. He speaks regularly about shareholder activism on panels (including at the Tulane Corporate Law Institute) and at universities around the world (including Harvard, Stanford and Frankfurt). Kai is frequently interviewed and quoted as a thought leader by the national and international 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 Law University; an Executive MBA, summa cum laude, from Münster 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.