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William D. Zabel

919 Third Avenue
New York, New York 10022
United States of America
P: +1 212.756.2351

William D. Zabel is a founding partner of the firm and head of the Individual Client Services Group. Based in New York, he practices in the areas of estate planning, wills, trusts, charitable foundations, income- and gift-tax planning, estate administration and family law. Bill represents many of the wealthiest individuals in the country on tax planning; succession planning; charitable giving (through the use of private foundations, public charities, split-interest trusts and direct giving); estates and trusts, including representation of individuals and institutions acting as fiduciaries with respect to both general administrative matters and litigated or contested ones; and family law matters, including prenuptial, postnuptial and cohabitation agreements, and the negotiation or mediation of substantial divorce matters.

Bill graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton University and cum laude from Harvard Law School. In 2006, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from The American Lawyer, and has also been honored to receive an Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Award, Brandeis University Distinguished Community Service Award, Distinguished Service Award (conferred by The New School) and the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights Extraordinary Leader Award. Bill is a member of the American Law Institute and the Council on Foreign Relations, a Fellow of Brandeis University, American College of Trusts and Estates Counsel and the American Bar Foundation, and an Academician of the International Academy of Estate and Trust Law. His civic and philanthropic activities have included, among many others, chair of Human Rights First, trustee or director of New York University, The New School, Doctors of the World, Princeton University Planned Giving Committee, Sakharov Archives, Lincoln Center Theater and The Academy of American Poets.

Selected Publications

The Rich Die Richer and You Can Too (John Wiley & Sons Inc.) 1995



American Bar Association
Florida Bar Association
New York City Bar Association
New York State Bar Association

Civic and Philanthropic
The Academy of American Poets (Director)
American Friends of the Israel Museum (Director)
amfAR (Director, 1998-2008)
Doctors of the World (Director, 1997-2004)
Harmonie Club, (President, 1989-1992) 
The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust (Trustee)
Human Rights First (Chairman)
The JPB Foundation
Lincoln Center Theater (Director)
The Lymphoma Foundation (Director)
New York University (Trustee)
The New School (Trustee)
Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University  
Princeton University Planned Giving Committee (Chairman)
Project on Death in America (Advisory Board, 1994-1999)
Sakharov Archives
Soros Foundations: Legal adviser to Open Society Institute and to Soros Foundations Network

Other Distinctions

Lifetime Achievement Award, The American Lawyer (2006)
Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Award (2005)
Brandeis University Distinguished Community Service Award
Distinguished Service Award, The New School
Lawyers Committee for Human Rights 2003 Extraordinary Leader Award
Member, American Law Institute
Fellow, Brandeis University
Fellow, American College of Trusts and Estates Counsel (ACTEC)
Academician, International Academy of Estate and Trust Law
Fellow, American Bar Foundation
Member, Council on Foreign Relations
New York City Litigation - Trusts & Estates Lawyer of the Year, Best Lawyers’ 2012 Lawyers of the Year

Bar Admissions

  • New York
  • Florida

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court


  • Harvard Law School, J.D., cum laude
  • Princeton University, B.A., summa cum laude
    • Phi Beta Kappa