John C. Coates

John F. Cogan Jr. Professor of Law and Economics,
Research Director, Center on the Legal Profession,
Harvard Law School;
Former General Counsel and Acting Director,
Division of Corporation Finance,
Securities and Exchange Commission;
Senior Advisor, Cornerstone Research

For more information, contact:

  • Yesim C. Richardson
  • Gary C. Schmirer
  • Simona Mola

or any member of our senior staff.


John Coates is a nationally recognized expert in corporate transactions, corporate control and governance, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), financial institutions, and securities. He has served as General Counsel and Acting Director of the Division of Corporation Finance at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and also as a member of the SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee.

Professor Coates has testified at trial and deposition in numerous matters, including before the Delaware Chancery Court; state courts in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York; and in U.S. district courts. He has also testified before committees of both chambers of the U.S. Congress.

Prior to joining the Harvard faculty, Professor Coates was a partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, where he specialized in financial institutions and in M&A. He has provided consulting services to the Department of Justice, the Department of the Treasury, multiple financial regulatory agencies, and the New York Stock Exchange. Professor Coates has also consulted for participants in financial markets, including individuals, public companies, mutual funds, hedge funds, investment banks, commercial banks, and private equity funds. In addition, Professor Coates served as independent consultant for the SEC in the first and the largest of the “Fair Fund” distributions to investors.

His research has been published in the Harvard Business Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, the Stanford Law Review, the Journal of International BankingFinance and Law, and the Journal of Economic Perspectives, among others. The NYU School of Law Alumni Association has honored Professor Coates with an award for excellence in teaching.

In addition to his appointments at Harvard Law School, Professor Coates is a Visiting Professor of Finance at Harvard Business School.


New York City Bar: Securities Litigation & Enforcement Institute 2024


In Re Twitter Inc. v. Elon Musk et al.


Kennis v. Metropolitan West Asset Management LLC


Summary Judgment Victory in Barclays Securities Litigation


Selectica, Inc. v. Versata Enterprises, Inc., and Trilogy, Inc.