Treasury GC nominee discloses $11.7 mln Davis Polk partner share

Davis Polk & Wardwell's legal offices in New York City. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
  • White-collar veteran Neil MacBride leads Davis Polk's D.C. office
  • MacBride’s disclosure showed his clients included Facebook, ExxonMobil, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo

(Reuters) - Veteran white-collar lawyer Neil MacBride, head of the Washington, D.C., office of Davis Polk & Wardwell, disclosed an $11.7 million partnership share at the firm Monday as part of his nomination to serve as general counsel to the U.S. Treasury Department.

MacBride joined Davis Polk in 2014 from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, where he was appointed U.S. attorney in 2009. At Davis Polk, he has served as co-head of the white-collar defense and investigations practice. He was an unpaid volunteer on the Biden transition team.

His disclosure form Monday includes income from the prior calendar year up to the date of the filing. The financial statements are mandatory for many high-level executive branch officials, offering a window into compensation at U.S. law firms, law schools, consultancies and in-house legal departments. The disclosures and accompanying ethics agreements show where top enforcement and regulatory officials might be forced to recuse themselves in matters involving former clients or employers.

MacBride’s disclosure stands out partly due to the limited number of Davis Polk lawyers who have served in recent years in high-level U.S. government posts. Many more lawyers in recent months have departed law firms, including Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr; Jenner & Block; Latham & Watkins; and O’Melveny & Myers, for leadership roles in the Biden administration.

MacBride’s partner compensation appears in line with top pay at Davis Polk. Profits per equity partner at the firm hit $6.35 million last year, The American Lawyer reported in April, behind only Wall Street powerhouse Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

The 2021 base pay for the U.S. Treasury general counsel is $172,500.

In recent days, Davis Polk has played a central role in a compensation race among top U.S. law firms over pay for first-year associates. Davis Polk said it would boost first-year associate salaries to $202,500, surpassing a scale that had just been set by Milbank.

MacBride said in his ethics agreement that he would receive a partnership withdrawal payment “based on an objective formula and a pro rata partnership share for services performed in 2021." He estimated that payment to be between $1 million and $5 million.

His disclosure showed he provided legal services to Davis Polk clients including Wells Fargo; Facebook Inc.; JP Morgan Chase Bank NA; ExxonMobil Corp.; Cisco Systems Inc.; and AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP.

For a period of one year after his resignation from the firm, MacBride would be barred from participating in matters involving Davis Polk unless he is granted a waiver. Several regulatory agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Health and Human Services, have issued waivers to newly named top officials so far in the Biden administration.

At Treasury, MacBride would be expected to take a leading role on matters involving the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, the interagency body that reviews foreign deal-making in the U.S. More broadly, Treasury has vowed to take steps to back Biden-era priorities that include pandemic response and addressing the threat of climate change.

Read more:

Surpassing Milbank, Davis Polk boosts 1st-year associate pay to $202,500

Milbank raises associate starting salaries to $200K

Davis Polk is again the firm to beat on associate bonuses, with payouts up to $64K

Sanctions, CFIUS pro hops from Cleary to Davis Polk

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

Mike Scarcella, based in Washington, D.C., is a legal affairs news reporter focused on antitrust and regulatory matters. Contact him at mike.scarcella@tr.com and follow him on Twitter @MikeScarcella.