Steven Gartner

Retired/Chair Emeritus
Steven J. Gartner served as Chairman of Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP from 2010 through 2020. He also served on the firm’s Executive Committee for 21 years, and was a partner of the firm from 1993 until his retirement at the end of 2020. Steve started his career in 1984 as a firm associate. He helped launch the firm’s London office in 1988-1990, and spent the rest of his career in the firm’s New York office.  

During Steve’s tenure as Chairman, the firm’s revenues grew from $533 million to just under $1 billion.  With Steve’s leadership, the firm expanded its business significantly with the growth of the London office and the launch between 2014 and 2020 of four new offices in Houston, Palo Alto, San Francisco and Chicago.  

While leading the firm, Steve maintained a busy practice and was widely recognized, both domestically and internationally, as a leading M&A and private equity practitioner, having led some of the most noteworthy corporate transactions. He also regularly advised boards of directors, board committees and senior management on strategic issues and corporate governance matters. Additionally, he represented activists in a number of proxy fights and campaigns, as well as companies defending against the activists.

For over 15 years, Steve was ranked as a leading practitioner in the area of private equity and buyouts in Chambers USA, Chambers Global and Best Lawyers, including receiving Chambers' “Eminent Practitioner” designation from 2017 to 2020.  

Steve mentored and supported countless colleagues in developing their careers, which often led to advancements to the firm’s partnership, internal management promotions and significant leadership positions for many partners. In recognition of his commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, in 2018 the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) honored Steve and the firm with a Compass Award, highlighting Willkie’s successful participation in programs designed to attract, inspire and nurture diverse talent.

Additionally, Steve was a major champion for pro bono and philanthropic activities at the firm, which was exemplified over the years by his own involvement in pro bono matters and board service for not-for-profits, including serving as a long-time member of the St. John’s School of Law Alumni Association board, and for a term as its president. In 2015, he received the John J. Murphy Award from St. John’s in recognition of distinguished service to the public, the profession and the rule of law.

Steve received his JD from St. John’s University School of Law, where he was a member of the St. John’s Law Review. He received a BSBA in Accounting from Georgetown University. He is currently on the Board of Governors of St. John’s University and the Board of Directors for St. John’s University School of Law Alumni Association. Steve continues to work with the firm on various pro bono projects, including projects involving start-up ventures and Ukrainian refugees.

Steve lives with his wife, Donna, in Mantoloking, NJ and Naples, FL.