Biglaw, Federal Judges, Judicial Nominations, Money, Partner Issues, Partner Profits

A Peek At Partner Pay: Baker Botts, Covington & Burling

Let us give thanks to all the talented attorneys who leave Biglaw partnerships to serve as federal judges. First, this type of public service, often made at significant financial sacrifice, is in the legal profession’s finest traditions. Second, by throwing their hats into the federal judicial ring, these nominees let us ogle their personal finances — a subject of keen interest, and one that’s less than perfectly transparent.

Last month we used a pair of Ninth Circuit nominations to gain insight into partner pay at Munger Tolles & Olson. Today we use a D.C. district court nomination as a vehicle for looking at profits per partner at two other elite law firms, Baker Botts and Covington & Burling….

Casey Cooper, a partner in the D.C. office of Covington & Burling, has an amazing résumé. After graduating summa cum laude from Yale and with distinction from Stanford Law School, he clerked on the D.C. Circuit for the legendary Abner Mikva (a huge feeder judge back in the day). After serving in the Justice Department as special assistant to the Deputy Attorney General, he joined the Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin (an amazing boutique; may it rest in peace). He made partner at Miller Cassidy and then became a partner at Baker Botts when much of Miller Cassidy got absorbed by that firm. (His father in law is Bill Jeffress, one of the nation’s top litigators, who also moved from Miller Cassidy to Baker Botts.)

Cooper practiced at Baker Botts for more than a decade before moving in 2012 to Covington, his current professional home. Now he’s nominated for a judgeship in Washington’s federal district court (D.D.C.), one of the nation’s most important trial courts (up there with the S.D.N.Y.). This has required him to open the financial kimono, as noted by The BLT:

Cooper reported $1.2 million in partnership income at Baker Botts in 2011, when the company reported $1.39 million profits per partner as part of the Am Law 100 survey. At the time, he had been with Baker Botts for 11 years, the first nine in the Washington and then in the London office starting in 2010.

Interesting. People sometimes wonder about the accuracy of Am Law’s law firm financial data, which in some cases comes from the firms and in some cases gets estimated. In the case of Baker Botts, the information seems fairly accurate — as a midlevel partner, Cooper made a little under the average PPP.

He jumped to Covington’s London office in February 2012 to boost the firm’s anti-corruption and white-collar practices. He reported $847,156 in partnership income in 2012, and $702,786 in 2013 through July. That would put him on pace to make at least $1.2 million in 2013, about what the firm showed for profits per partner in 2012.

So it looks like Cooper took something of a financial hit when he initially moved from Baker Botts to Covington, but seems to be on track to make up for it in 2013. According to the latest Am Law 100 rankings, Covington had $1.265 million in 2012 profits per partner, an increase of 5.4 percent over 2011.

Does he have any future income or deferred compensation coming his way, a la Debevoise-partner-turned-SEC-chair Mary Jo White ($500,000 a year), or Cravath-partner-turned-S.D.N.Y.-judge Katherine Forrest ($380,000 a year)? Maybe a little, but nothing huge, based on what he wrote in his Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire:

But Cooper isn’t hurting for cash. Perhaps the most notable aspect of his financial disclosure is his delicious net worth: $8.5 million, including $3.1 million in real estate assets and $5.7 million in securities. For someone turning 47 in 2013 (he was born in 1966), closing in on an eight-figure net worth is impressive.

Good luck to the eminently qualified Casey Cooper in the confirmation process. He won’t get richer if his nomination goes through, but the D.D.C. bench certainly will.

Covington Partner Discloses Financials to Senate [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]
Covington & Burling’s Gross Revenue Grew by 6.4 Percent in 2012 [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]

Earlier: For Whom The Munger Tolles: A Peek At Partner Pay

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