DOJ antitrust nominee reports $20 mln in Paul, Weiss income

American flag waves outside the U.S. Department of Justice Building in Washington
An American flag waves outside the U.S. Department of Justice Building in Washington, U.S., December 2, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner
  • Kanter's disclosure includes income received during 2020 and 2021, and as part of his departure from the law firm
  • Kanter founded an antitrust boutique last year in Washington, clients include Spotify, Nike and Uber

(Reuters) - Jonathan Kanter, the Biden administration's nominee to lead the U.S. Justice Department antitrust division, reported receiving $20.3 million from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison since 2020 in partner compensation and as a result of his departure from the law firm, according to an ethics filing released on Monday.

Kanter's nomination in July for assistant attorney general in charge of DOJ's antitrust team drew praise from progressive groups. Kanter left Paul, Weiss last year to set up his own antitrust boutique in Washington, D.C., and is broadly viewed as being aligned with the new administration's antitrust approach calling for greater competition scrutiny and enforcement.

Financial disclosures, which offer a glimpse at compensation and clients, are mandatory public ethics filings for many high-level federal government posts. Disclosure from law firm partners can reveal income for legal services provided over two or three years, in addition to bonuses.

Kanter declined to comment on Monday. His nomination is pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee. A hearing date has not been publicly scheduled.

Compensation for equity partners at Paul, Weiss soared in 2020, The American Lawyer reported in April. Profits per partner were nearly $5.4 million, a 14% increase over the prior year.

Kanter left Paul, Weiss in September 2020 amid a client conflict to start The Kanter Law Group, which has six lawyers. Paul, Weiss, where Kanter was co-chair of the firm's antitrust group, employs more than 1,000 lawyers.

Attorneys who leave private practice generally are not allowed to touch matters involving their former firm or clients for at least one year unless an ethics waiver is approved.

His disclosure showed his clients while at Paul, Weiss included Qualcomm Inc, Mastercard Inc, and the special committee of independent directors to the board of Facebook Inc on a matter adverse to the company. Financial statements do not provide details about the scope of any specific client matter.

Kanter's disclosure showed he continued to work with at least a dozen former Paul, Weiss clients after he left the firm to start his boutique. The clients identified as connected to both firms included Microsoft Corp, Cigna Corp, Yelp Inc, Charter Communications Inc and News Corp.

New clients at the Kanter Law Group included the Coalition for App Fairness, Spotify USA Inc, Uber Technologies Inc, Nike Inc and General Motors Co.

Kanter's filing did not show any professional or financial connection to Google LLC, Apple Inc and Inc, companies that are facing new scrutiny from U.S. regulators and federal lawmakers. Paul, Weiss lawyers are defending Amazon in court in antitrust lawsuits.

In 2018, Kanter testified at a U.S. Senate panel that federal policymakers "should vigorously explore new questions in antitrust to ensure that U.S. antitrust law remains relevant to the realities of today's economy and society."

Kanter joined Paul, Weiss in 2016 from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, where he had been a partner. From 2000 to 2007, Kanter was an associate at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, according to his LinkedIn biography.

He served as an attorney in the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's competition bureau for two years at the start of his legal career.

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