Partner pay watch: EEOC nominee reveals Cohen Milstein compensation

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Signage is seen at the law firm of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC in their legal offices in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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  • Kalpana Kotagal leads firm's hiring and diversity committee
  • She helped craft "inclusion rider" tactic to boost film-production diversity

(Reuters) - Plaintiffs' lawyer Kalpana Kotagal, nominated by President Joe Biden to serve on the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, said she will forfeit any interest in fees tied to six pending contingency matters if she is confirmed to join the agency, according to an ethics filing released on Wednesday.

Kotagal's financial disclosure, a mandatory filing for U.S. agency nominees and other high-level executive officials, showed she received nearly $400,000 in salary and bonus since last year from Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll. Kotagal leads the hiring and diversity committee at the Washington, D.C.-based law firm, where she has worked since 2014.

Financial disclosures offer a peek at compensation for lawyers and other officials leaving the private sector to work in the U.S. government. Cohen Milstein, with more than 100 lawyers, often sues companies over matters involving antitrust, securities, employment and civil rights.

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Kotagal, a non-equity partner, did not name the six contingency matters or provide an estimated dollar amount in fees that she might forfeit. She did not immediately return a message on Wednesday seeking comment.

The filing also said Kotagal would receive up to an estimated $50,000 in bonus money for generating certain unidentified client matters.

Her disclosure showed she provided legal services to Cohen Milstein clients that include the New York State Common Retirement Fund, Los Angeles-based Pearl Street Films and the Sierra Club.

Kotagal gained national acclaim in 2018 for her work as a civil rights lawyer who helped craft a new way to boost diversity in Hollywood film productions. Kotagal helped to develop a provision in actors' contracts called an "inclusion rider" that requires studios to increase the gender, racial and sexual orientation diversity of casts and crews.

Her nomination was announced earlier this month and is pending before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Her confirmation would give Democrat-appointed members of the EEOC a 3-2 edge over Republican members.

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