Antitrust, Biglaw, Department of Justice, Fabulosity, Federal Judges, Judicial Nominations, Lawyerly Lairs, Litigatrix, Money, Partner Issues, Partner Profits, Real Estate, S.D.N.Y., Senate Judiciary Committee

Ex-Cravath Partner Nominated to S.D.N.Y. Is Pretty Stinking Rich

Katherine Forrest: You'd smile too if you were this rich.

I recently wrote about Katherine B. Forrest, the celebrated litigatrix nominated to a federal judgeship on the breathtakingly prestigious Southern District of New York. Forrest currently serves as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice’s antitrust division, but before joining the DOJ she was a longtime partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore — a premier, if not the premier, American law firm. Forrest was one of CSM’s most popular (and most powerful) young partners.

Katherine Forrest has a reputation as an incredible attorney, and she has the awards to prove it (see question 8). Not surprisingly, the ABA deemed her “unanimously well-qualified” as an S.D.N.Y. nominee.

So here’s what I wondered: Why did the amazingly accomplished Forrest, a partner at super-lucrative Cravath for over a dozen years, declare a mere $4.3 million on her net worth statement? Granted, $4.3 million is nothing to scoff at; KBF is rich (even by Elie’s standards). But it seemed to me that a lawyer of her distinction, who was a partner at a top firm for such a long time, should be even richer.

Thanks to information from helpful readers who saw my earlier post, I now know the truth. As it turns out, Katherine Forrest is considerably wealthier than that $4.3 million number suggests.

Way richer, in fact. Let’s find out….

I missed this in my first pass. Tipsters directed my attention to question 20 of Forrest’s Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire:

Wow. Over $380K a year, for the next ten years? That comes out to an additional $3.8 million for Forrest (without discounting to present value). This retirement pay package would make a Colorado state pensioner blush.

I was once scolded — perhaps by a commenter (who else?) — for using the adjective “delicious” to refer to something other than food. Well, I’m sorry, but Forrest’s deferred comp deal is nothing short of delicious. DELICIOUS DELICIOUS DELICIOUS. So there. And if you don’t like my use of the word “delicious,” well, eat me.

(Some firms have even richer packages for former partners. Retired partners of Wachtell Lipton, for example, receive seven-figure sums on an annual basis, for years after leaving the firm.)

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is one reason why the dream of Biglaw is still so alluring. You might not love the work, but if you make partner, you can retire before you’re 50 — with a net worth in the millions, and millions more coming to you in deferred compensation / retirement pay.

As I noted in my prior post, Katherine Forrest deserves praise — and thanks — for leaving a lucrative Biglaw gig to serve the public interest. She left Cravath and took a huge pay cut to join the Justice Department. And now she’s volunteering for even more years of service at a sub-$200K salary: if confirmed as a federal district judge, she will earn a mere $174,000. That’s less than the total 2010-attributable compensation of a Cravath first-year associate (i.e., base salary, 2010 year-end bonus, and 2011 spring bonus).

But here’s the beauty of Forrest’s situation: thanks to the years of hard work she put in at Cravath, today she can serve the public good and live in luxury. She can do well and do good. She can have her proverbial cake and eat it too. She can accept that district judge salary of $174,000 without complaint (unlike some federal judges), because she’s getting a supplement of over $380,000 per annum, courtesy of Cravath.

In my prior post, I questioned Katherine Forrest’s investment prowess (before I knew about the millions she has coming to her in deferred comp). I hereby take it all back.

Based on her track record in New York real estate, it seems that she is a savvy investor as well as a superb lawyer. In April 2010, a few months before Forrest moved down to D.C., BlockShopper Manhattan reported:

Peter Babej and Deborah Chase bought Unit #10-77 at 2101 Broadway on the Upper West Side from Sean Baldwin and Katherine Forrest for $3.725 million on April 27.

How much did Baldwin and Forrest pay for the pad? According to ACRIS (my best friend), they bought the condo for $1,567,500 back in 2003. That’s a very nice ROI.

And a very nice apartment, in the Ansonia — an historic prewar building. Check out pics of Forrest’s former lawyerly lair, described as a “spectacular 2,700 sq. ft. family apartment in the heart of the Upper West Side.” And look at the floor plan — the unit seems to be in the Ansonia’s turret! That’s pretty darn cool.

The view from Katherine Forrest's former apartment.

Before moving on up to #10-77, Baldwin and Forrest lived in another Ansonia apartment, #4-144. According to ACRIS, they sold that apartment — for the tidy sum of $1,610,000 — to Jonathan Selbin, a partner at Lieff Cabraser, and Jenny Needelman, a staff attorney at Schulte Roth & Zabel.

Who is Sean Baldwin? I’m guessing that Baldwin is Katherine Forrest’s longtime companion. In terms of who is doing the financial heavy lifting in this couple, though, my money is on Forrest. Cravath partners generally earn more than self-employed writers.

In conclusion, Katherine Forrest is rich — really rich. She’s also an amazing advocate and a devoted public servant. She would make an excellent addition to the Southern District bench.

We thank Katherine Forrest for her commitment to public service, and we wish her the best of luck in the confirmation process.

Deutsche Bank exec takes Upper West Side condo for $3.725M [BlockShopper Manattan]
Sean Baldwin Contribution List in 2008 [Campaign Money]

Earlier: Ex-Cravath Partner Turned Judicial Nominee Has Underwhelming Net Worth

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