Daniel O'Donnell


Daniel O'Donnell

Retired Partner

Philadelphia | Cira Centre, 2929 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA, United States of America 19104-2808
+1 215 994 2762 | +1 215 994 2222

New York | Three Bryant Park, 1095 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, United States of America 10036-6797
+1 212 698 3846 | +1 212 698 3599


Daniel O’Donnell, Dechert's past Chief Executive Officer, is a nationally recognized advisor to private equity fund sponsors, corporations, and financial institutions as well as company managements, boards of directors, and special committees. He represents clients on public and private mergers and acquisitions—both domestically and internationally—as well as corporate restructurings and corporate governance matters.

Mr. O’Donnell has been recognized for eleven consecutive years as a top lawyer for corporate/mergers and acquisitions and private equity by Chambers USA, where he has also been ranked among leading lawyers nationally for private equity buyouts. Chambers has praised him as a “fantastic negotiator with great business sense” who can “make the transaction happen” is “a very good strategic thinker,” and a “very levelheaded and pragmatic lawyer” with "tremendous ability to look at the big picture." In Chambers USA, clients mentioned that they “can't say enough good things about him in terms of his breadth of experience” and “in the stickiest of situations, he is our go-to person.” In addition, Mr. O’Donnell is listed for his work in both public company mergers and acquisitions and private equity buyouts in The Legal 500 U.S., which noted in a recent edition that he is “a terrific legal thinker with great business judgment.” He is also listed in The Best Lawyers in America and as a leading dealmaker in The Lawdragon 500 Leading Dealmakers. In 2016, Mr. O’Donnell was the recipient of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Dennis H. Replansky Memorial Award, which honors an individual who exhibits superior legal talent in the area of business law; unique contributions to and significant achievements within the business law community; a reputation for mentoring young attorneys; significant participation in and contributions to civic and charitable causes; and uniform recognition in the legal community for honesty, integrity and professionalism.

Over the last 30 years, Mr. O’Donnell has been involved in some of the major acquisition activity of the period, including the sale of Getty Oil to Texaco, the sale of Pennwalt Corporation to Elf Aquitaine, and the sale of Reliance Electric by Exxon Corporation. In addition, he has headed Dechert teams for private equity clients in more than 125 leveraged buyout and leveraged recapitalization transactions, including those involving Flender AG, American Microsystems, California Pizza Kitchen, J&L Specialty Steel, MagnaChip Semiconductor, nTelos, Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation, and Mohawk Industries, Inc. He has also handled many significant restructurings of both public and private companies, including Long John Silver’s, O’Sullivan Industries, International Knife & Saw, Inc., Mediq, and Galey & Lord.

Mr. O’Donnell joined Dechert in 1976 as an associate, was promoted to partner in 1982 and was elected as Chief Executive Officer in 2011. As Chief Executive Officer, Mr. O’Donnell has played a key role in developing and implementing the firm’s strategic plan and articulating a set of commitments and guiding principles to help shape the firm’s culture, professional development strategy, growth and integration efforts, and client service model. Mr. O’Donnell has worked closely with the partnership and other firm leaders to build consensus and ensure execution against the firm’s strategic priorities. He has also devoted substantial time to the firm’s international expansion efforts with a focus on seamless integration across offices. Under Mr. O’Donnell’s leadership, Dechert now has 35% of its lawyers outside of the United States. In addition, he is relentlessly client focused and has helped to establish the firm’s first-of-its kind legal project management department, which uses technology, people and processes to drive efficiency and deliver value to the firm’s clients. Mr. O’Donnell is a frequent speaker on legal industry and management topics, and has been featured in a variety of prominent media outlets.

In addition, Mr. O’Donnell has served as a member of the board of directors of numerous business corporations, including East River Bank.

  • University of Notre Dame, B.A., 1973, summa cum laude
  • University of Pennsylvania Law School, J.D., 1976, Order of the Coif, member of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, recipient of the McCall Prize for graduating first in his class
  • Pennsylvania
  • Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
  • Buckeye Technologies Inc. in its US$1.5 billion sale to Georgia-Pacific LLC.
  • Intersil Corporation in numerous acquisitions and dispositions, including its: US$1.4 billion acquisition of Elantec Semiconductor, Inc., the largest technology transaction of the first quarter of 2002; US$529 million acquisition of Xicor, Inc.; US$365 million sale of Wireless Networking Products Group to GlobespanVirata, Inc.; US$338 million sale of its discrete power business assets to Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation; and acquisitions of Sicom, Inc., Zilker Labs, Inc., D2Audio Corp, and No Wires Needed.
  • Court Square Capital Partners and Weston Presidio in their US$1.3 billion acquisition of publicly-traded MacDermid Incorporated, a specialty chemical company.
  • Church & Dwight in its US$380 million acquisition of the Del Pharmaceuticals division from Coty Inc.; its US$325 million acquisition of Orange Glo International, a household cleaner products company and maker of OxiClean®; and its acquisition of the SpinBrush toothbrush business from Procter & Gamble. 
  • The management team of Getty Images, Inc. in the US$2.4 billion acquisition of Getty Images by an affiliate of private equity firm Hellman & Friedman LLC and Getty Images Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Klein.
  • Citigroup Venture Capital Equity Partners, L.P. and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan in their US$1.1 billion acquisition of Worldspan, L.P. (owned by Delta Air Lines, Inc., Northwest Airlines Corp. and American Airlines parent AMR Corp.) and their US$1.4 billion sale of Worldspan, L.P. to Travelport Ltd.
  • Swiss Reinsurance Company in its disposition of its Global Asset Protection Services division to XL Insurance.
  • AmeriSource Health Corp. in its US$3.7 billion merger of equals transaction with Bergen Brunswig Corp. to form AmerisourceBergen Corp.
  • Citigroup Venture Capital Equity Partners, L.P. in its US$822 million acquisition of the non-memory business (now known as MagnaChip Semiconductor) of South Korean chip manufacturer Hynix Semiconductor Inc. Also represented MagnaChip Semiconductor in its subsequent US$750 million Rule 144A/Regulation S offering, which was the largest high yield bond offering in the United States for a Korean-headquartered company and among the top four priced bond deals in the technology sector in the past three years at the time of issuance.
  • Preferred Unlimited, Inc. in its US$337 million acquisition, along with Golden Gate Capital, of U.S. Silica from Harbinger Capital.
  • Numerous private equity sponsors or Special Committees in “going private” transactions involving Delco Remy International, Inc., Sybron Chemicals, Cort Business Services, DavCo Restaurants Inc., and Insignia Financial Services.
  • Board of Advisors, The Penn Wharton Institute for Law and Economics
  • Advisory Council, The University of Notre Dame College of Arts and Letters
Speaking Engagements
  • Middle Market: Identifying and Creating Sustainable Competitive Advantages — Wharton Private Equity & Venture Capital Conference 2011, Philadelphia, PA (February 4, 2011)
  • Risk Management: The Critical Role Lawyers Can Play — Presented by ACC GNY with sponsorship by Dechert, New York, NY (June 17, 2010)
  • 2010 Wharton Private Equity and Venture Capital Conference — Presented by the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School with Sponsorship by Dechert, Philadelphia, PA (February 5, 2010)
  • Middle Market Private Equity: Positioning for Growth in a Downturn — Wharton Private Equity and Venture Capital Conference, Philadelphia, PA (February 5, 2010)
  • Moderating Panel: Finding Gems Under Rocks - How to Drive Value Going Forward in Middle Markets — Wharton Private Equity and Venture Capital Conference, Philadelphia, PA (January 23, 2009)
  • Wharton Private Equity and Venture Capital Conference — Presented by the Wharton School of Business with Sponsorship by Dechert, Philadelphia, PA (January 23, 2009)
  • Auction Strategies: Maximizing Value for Sellers and Buyers in M&A Transactions — Private Equity Roundup, New York, NY (July 13, 2003)
  • KPMG Audit Committee Roundtable — KPMG, Conshohoken, PA (May 15, 2003)