U.S. Department of Justice (Diego M. Radzinschi)
Dechert partner Steven Engel, tapped to lead the office known as “the president’s law firm,” will give up a partnership share worth nearly $1.8 million if he’s confirmed by the Senate.
That’s according to an ethics disclosure form he filed in March, which, along with an ethics pledge, outlines Engel’s possible conflicts of interest if confirmed as assistant attorney general at the Office of Legal Counsel. The OLC answers legal questions for the administration, counseling on what the government can and cannot legally do.
In addition to the $1.8 million partnership share and interest on his capital account, Engel’s disclosure form shows he earned a $75,000 bonus in 2015. His ethics pledge says he will also receive a bonus from the firm for 2016.
The disclosure form also lists Engel’s clients, which include Takata Corp. Takata executives pleaded guilty earlier this year in a case brought by the Justice Department that involved faulty airbags. Other clients include General Electric and the New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.
One potential conflict listed is that Engel’s wife, Susan Engel, is a nonequity partner at Kirkland & Ellis. In the pledge, Steven Engel agreed to step back from any matters that he knows could affect Susan Engel’s pay or employment, or in which he knows she represents an involved party. He agreed to do the same on matters involving his own firm or clients for one year once he resigns.
The ethics pledge says Steven Engel will withdraw as a partner upon Senate confirmation, and will receive a lump sum payment of his capital account no more than 60 days after he does so. The pledge says Dechert might keep part of the account “as a reserve for account reconciliations and tax payments that the firm makes on behalf of its partners,” but that he will get a proportional share by the first quarter of 2018.
Engel was nominated earlier this year, but the Senate Judiciary Committee, the first hurdle to confirmation, has yet to vote on his nomination. It’s unclear when a full Senate vote will take place.
Engel graduated from Harvard College in 1996 and received his law degree from Yale Law School in 2000. In 2001 and 2002, Engel clerked for Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, where he met his future wife, Susan Kearns. He went on to clerk for Justice Anthony Kennedy, and she clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia. After their clerkships, both worked at Kirkland & Ellis.
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