Lewis Liman, the Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton partner nominated by President Donald Trump for the Southern District of New York federal bench, has a total net worth of $37.7 million, with millions of dollars in assets in real estate and securities.
Liman’s net worth, his $2.8 million from his partnership income last year and how he came to be selected to the prestigious position—the process started years ago, before Trump’s election—are all outlined in newly disclosed financial records.
Liman’s partnership income and total assets stand in contrast to other law firm partners nominated by Trump for the federal bench in recent months. For instance, David Porter, a shareholder at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, lists a net worth of $1.66 million, with $228,493 in income last year. J.P. Hanlon, a partner at Faegre Baker Daniels and up for the Southern District of Indiana bench, listed a net worth of $2.35 million, earning $873,563 last year from his firm.
Underscoring the contrast between Liman and others is a look at Liman’s clients at Cleary and his prior firms: banks and large corporations in litigations and investigations, some of which are often parties or litigants in the Southern District of New York.
For instance, Liman represented Bank of America in litigation and investigations arising from its acquisition of Merrill Lynch; Bank of New York Mellon Corp. in litigation and investigations related to Bernard Madoff’s fraud; and Petroleo Brasileiro, also known as Petrobras, Brazil’s national oil company, in securities litigation arising out of a bribery investigation in Brazil, according to an outline of his cases in a U.S. Senate questionnaire.
Over the years, he has also represented entertainment technology company IMAX Corp. and pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis in securities fraud litigation.
Meanwhile, he has been amicus counsel to some of the largest business trade groups, including Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The disclosure forms also highlight various pro bono cases over the years. He represented a defendant sentenced to death in federal court, helped launch a project to provide services to victims of hurricanes and helped lead a project to assist victims of sex trafficking to have their sex-related convictions expunged under New York State law, his questionnaire said.
While he was nominated by Trump in May, his selection was years in the making, according to his questionnaire, which said he met in May 2015 with Sen. Chuck Schumer’s judicial screening committee, which recommended his nomination to Schumer. In August 2015, Schumer interviewed him.
Nearly two years later, in April 2017, he was interviewed by Trump’s White House counsel’s office, and since then he has had “sporadic communications” with the Justice Department and the White House counsel’s office, according to his questionnaire.
(After Trump publicly tapped Liman and others, Schumer’s office said the nominations were “the result of a sound, collaborative and bipartisan process.”)
Liman’s $37.7 net worth reflects that he has $38.2 million in net assets, including more than $16 million in securities and $12.25 million in real estate. The disclosure form said he has $5.69 million in benefits and return of capital on his law firm retirement.
While he reported his 2016 income as $3.52 million, his income last year was $2.84 million, about a 19 percent decrease, according to the questionnaire. (Cleary’s average profits per partner dropped 7.6 percent last year, according to The American Lawyer.) The May 16 dated questionnaire said his 2018 partnership income so far is $1.02 million.
If confirmed, “I expect to terminate any continuing financial relationship with my law firm” and he anticipates recusing from matters involving the firm, Liman wrote in the questionnaire.
Liman has a prestigious resume. After earning his law degree from Yale Law School, he spent a brief period as an attorney at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. Liman clerked for Justice John Paul Stevens at the U.S. Supreme Court. He was an associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore from 1990 to 1994 and for the next five years served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. At the prosecutor’s office, he rose to serve as deputy chief of appeals. After leaving the office in 1999, he was a partner at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering until 2003, when he joined Cleary.
According to the disclosure forms, Liman has generally stayed clear of serving on any political campaigns. The one exception, according to his questionnaire, is volunteering for the 1980 presidential campaign of John Anderson, a Republican congressman from Illinois who ran as an independent.
Liman and representatives from Cleary didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment Wednesday about the questionnaire.