Ex-Kirkland partner Khuzami banked $11m partnership share, filings reveal

Former Kirkland & Ellis white-collar partner Robert Khuzami – now second-in-command at the Manhattan US attorney’s office – reported earning $11.1m in partnership income in about a year’s span, according to a financial disclosure released this week.

Khuzami, who joined Kirkland from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2013, joined the Southern District of New York in January as a deputy US attorney to Geoffrey Berman, the current interim US attorney and a former partner at Greenberg Traurig.

His financial disclosure, filed to the US Office of Government Ethics, is mandatory for many top-level executive positions.

The financial disclosure offers a glimpse at partner compensation at a firm that just overtook Latham & Watkins as the world’s largest by revenue. Kirkland’s profits per equity partner rose nearly 15% last year, to $4.7m.

A spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office said the $11.1m reflects some money Khuzami earned in 2016 but was paid in 2017, as well as money he was paid in 2017 and early 2018 before he left Kirkland. The reporting period for financial disclosures includes the current calendar year and the previous calendar year. Khuzami was formally appointed Berman’s deputy on 22 January.

Khuzami identified the value of his Kirkland capital account at between $250,000 and $500,000, while his pension was valued at more than $500,000.

In his former role at the SEC, Khuzami led the enforcement division. When he joined Kirkland to head up the US firm’s government and internal investigations group, he was reportedly hired with a guaranteed compensation of $5m.

Kirkland declined to comment.

Since January 2017, at least seven other Kirkland partners have either left the firm to take various posts in the Trump administration, or are awaiting US Senate confirmation.

Khuzami’s financial disclosure identified 31 Kirkland clients for whom he provided legal services, including Walmart and its former CEO Michael Duke, Deutsche Bank, Navient Solutions, UBS Financial Services, The Blackstone Group and Boeing.

Khuzami also provided services to Valeant Pharmaceuticals International’s board of directors, Teva Pharmaceuticals and AbbVie.

Khuzami first joined the US attorney’s office in Manhattan in 1990 after leaving Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft. He spent more than a decade as an assistant US attorney in that office. From 2002 to 2009, Khuzami held in-house roles at Deutsche, first as head of litigation and regulatory investigations and then as general counsel to the Americas.

After leaving the SEC in 2013, Khuzami said that many Am Law 100 firms courted him. There was a “significant amount of interest early on”, he said in an interview at the time. Khuzami said he spoke with some 30 Kirkland partners before choosing the firm.

“It’s kind of like getting married,” Khuzami said about his recruitment process five years ago. “You know she’s the one, but sometimes it takes a little longer to decide. Although if I had chosen to stay in New York I think I would have ended up at Kirkland anyway.”

Additional reporting by Brian Baxter.