February 11, 2023

What an of counsel makes at O'Melveny

       In a prior post, I described an of counsel who had berated me because he mistakenly thought I was trying to take work that he could be doing. You'll see dozens of these of counsels at O'Melveny, almost all retired partners, and I remember associates wondering why they still came in. Well, a divorce filing might answer that question, so I should probably add it to this site to inform readers.

       As stated in the court's opinion, the divorcee began working at O'Melveny in the 1980s, became a partner in the early 1990s, retired a few years ago, and is now an of counsel at the firm. Based on the filings, he made between $1 million and $2 million per year in his later years as a partner.

       Jumping to the numbers, his income and expense declaration states that in 2021 he received:
  • $375 per hour for about eight hours of work per week at O'Melveny. This would be about 8 x $375 x 52 = $156,000 per year.
  • About $15,500 per month from the O'Melveny & Myers Partnership Agreement Retirement Benefit defined benefit pension plan. (A portion of this goes to his ex-wife, and they are currently litigating over that amount. The legal issue is how the "time rule" should be used to split payments from this particular pension plan. What's amusing is that this dispute over a grand or so per month could wind up affecting other retired and divorced O'Melveny partners. I assume the plan's fiduciary will inform similarly situated retirees of the case.) Any way, this would be about $15,500 x 12 or $186,000 per year.
  • A distribution of $93,000 from the O'Melveny & Myers Partnership Deferred Compensation Plan. His ex-wife also received $93,000 from that plan, so if not for the divorce he would have received the sum of those two, or about $186,000 in 2021. 
  • About $21,000 of "CEI Distribution" and "Tax Distro."
       Add the four above and you get $549,000 of income in 2021, of which $156,000 came from the eight hours per week that he worked, and $393,000 came from the firm's retirement plans. So there you have it. If you were wondering why so many retired of counsels continue to come into the office, it's to receive the part-time income described above, and possibly other income from their own clients unrelated to O'Melveny.

       As with the last post, I won't publish the full document without O'Melveny's permission, although again this is all publicly available information that anyone can download from the court's website. The snippets below have the key numbers.