Ty Cobb wasn’t kidding when he told both The National Law Journal and an internet troll that he made a huge financial sacrifice to leave private practice to join President Donald Trump’s legal team this summer.
How huge? That part still isn’t clear, after the White House released only partially completed copies of Cobb’s government financial disclosure forms on Friday.
The former Hogan Lovells partner disclosed that his dividends from the firm are valued between $5 million and $25 million. But the forms failed to address in more specific terms his relationship with the firm and with corporate or individual legal clients.
Cobb, reached by phone on Friday, said his disclosure was still incomplete, and that it is being “updated and refined” by his broker, accountant and the White House before an Oct. 14 deadline.
The disclosure Friday may have been accidental. The White House provided Cobb’s filings after the NLJ filled out a publicly available standard request form. The document the NLJ received that details Cobb’s affiliation with Hogan is marked as a “draft” and “under review.”
This disclosure is unusual because it lists so wide a range in salary, and because private practice lawyers traditionally list their partnership take-home pay down to the dollar. Cobb declined Friday to give more specifics about what he made at Hogan Lovells.
Previously, Cobb said in an email leaked to Mother Jones magazine that he “walked away from $4 million annually” to become the president’s special counsel for the Russia investigation. The job inside the White House would pay him no more than $200,000.
Cobb had been a litigator at Hogan Lovells for almost three decades. The firm’s average global profits per equity partner clocks in at $1.25 million.
Cobb describes his pay from Hogan as both a partnership share and a salary/bonus in the draft federal filing. He also mentions having a capital account with the firm, which he said Wells Fargo used as security for a loan, and that he paid back to the bank plus a “small amount of interest.”
When Cobb spoke to the NLJ in late July, days before he moved to the White House, he said he was working on transferring 30 clients to other lawyers at the firm. But his federal disclosure this week listed no major legal services clients where it normally would have.
Cobb did, however, note more than a dozen publicly traded assets and funds in which his investments total between $2.13 million and $4.45 million. He also disclosed more than 200 recent stock transactions—mostly sales—in other filings released by the White House.
Though multimillion-dollar partner compensations seems off-the-charts for many law firms, they’re proving to be standard fare among some lawyers who’ve moved to the government this year. Previously, FBI Director Chris Wray said he earned $9.2 million from King & Spalding over about a year-and-a-half. And James Quarles, the former Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr partner who joined Robert Mueller III’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, made $5.9 million from January 2016 into the first few months of this year.
Cobb is of particular note this week after The New York Times caught him talking about the Russia investigation and his frustrations within it while at a downtown D.C. steakhouse.
When asked Friday about the week he’s had, Cobb said to the NLJ: “Hanging in there— [it's a] full-contact sport. I’ve had better weeks. On my main purpose, I’m making great progress.”