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William Chandler III never realized his young man's dream of becoming a university professor, yet he has managed to pass on plenty of lessons to students of American law and business.

Chandler, 60, is retiring this week as head of Delaware's Court of Chancery, which rules over corporate law in a state that is the legal home to more than half of all publicly traded U.S. companies, including about two-thirds of the Fortune 500.

Chandler's decision to join a Silicon Valley-based law firm, where he will focus on advising corporate clients and working behind the scenes on litigation strategy, comes after 26 years on the bench, including eight years as a vice chancellor on the five-member court and 14 as chancellor.

But Chandler, who also served as a Superior Court judge before being appointed a vice chancellor, never envisioned himself wearing a black robe.

After obtaining his law degree from the University of South Carolina and clerking for a federal judge in Wilmington, Chandler went to Yale University law school with his eye on a master's degree and a dream of becoming a professor.

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