Revisiting the Forbes 400 and Its Deep-Pocketed Attorneys
As for the rest of those holding steady three years later—read our previous article for more legal background on those mentioned below—the Pritzker family’s collective net worth totals more than $20 billion, according to Forbes.
That's more than enough to cover the cost of the law degrees that five family members—Jay Robert, Thomas, Penny, Daniel and Nicholas II—earned at the University of Chicago, Northwestern and Stanford. While squabbling among the heirs to the Hyatt/Marmon Group fortune has mostly been resolved, the inheritance dispute has had repercussions for some Chicago firms handling Pritzker business.
S. Robson Walton, a former partner at Connor & Winters in Tulsa, Okla., is a former general counsel turned chairman of the board of directors for Wal-Mart, the retail giant founded by his father. Walton is No. 9 on Forbes’s richest Americans list with a net worth of $33.3 billion.
Others with legal links filling out the Forbes 400 ranks include Richard Kinder (No. 39; $10.2 billion); Sumner Redstone (No. 71; $5.8 billion); Robert Rowling (No. 93; $4.9 billion); Stephen Ross (No. 94; $4.8 billion); Robert Ziff (No. 98; $4.6 billion); George Roberts (No. 103; $4.4 billion); Trevor Rees-Jones (No. 103; $4.4 billion); Samuel Zell (No. 110; $4 billion); Ted Lerner (No. 110; $4 billion); and Riley Bechtel (No. 143; $3.4 billion).
Bechtel, the great-grandson of Warren Bechtel, who founded the construction company of the same name, began his career at Bechtel’s go-to outside firm, Thelen, which dissolved in 2008. Rees-Jones, a Texas oil billionaire and son of late Locke Lord of counsel Trevor William Rees-Jones, began his career as a bankruptcy lawyer at Thompson & Knight. D Magazine reports the younger Rees-Jones left his legal career behind with only $4,000 in savings to start his own wildcatting business. (Former Thompson & Knight partner Thornton Hardie III serves as president of The Rees-Jones Foundation.)
CBS and Viacom chairman Redstone has watched his wealth surge from an estimated $2.8 billion in 2010 to $5.8 billion this year, according to Forbes. Last year he donated $18 million to the Boston University School of Law, where Redstone was once a faculty member. He began his career trying tax cases as a special assistant to former U.S. attorney general Thomas Clark, who later became an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Ironically, Redstone is now facing scrutiny from the IRS over a $1.1 million tax bill from 1972.
Another name shooting up the Forbes 400 is pharmaceutical entrepreneur Randal Kirk, once the only attorney in Bland County, Va. Kirk, who checks in at No. 143, saw his net wealth soar from $1.7 billion in 2010 to $3.4 billion this year thanks to a $1.5 billion windfall from an IPO by his biotech firm Intrexon. (The offering yielded $1.4 million in legal fees and expenses for Troutman Sanders and Goodwin Procter, according to an SEC filing by the company.)
Filling out the Forbes list are Steven Rales (No. 157; $3.2 billion); David Rubenstein (No. 209; $2.6 billion); David Bonderman (No. 209; $2.6 billion); Neil Bluhm (No. 222; $2.5 billion); Mortimer Zuckerman (No. 243; $2.3 billion); Bernard Saul II (No. 252; $2.2 billion); Michael Jaharis (No. 273; $2 billion); Gerald Ford (No. 296; $1.9 billion); Bruce Karsh (No. 296; $1.9 billion); Peter Thiel (No. 314; $1.8 billion); Marc Lasry (No. 352; $1.5 billion); and Leon Charney (No. 386; $1.3 billion).
Lasry, who spent a year at New York bankruptcy boutique Angel & Frankel before going on to found hedge fund Avenue Capital Group in 1995, withdrew his nomination to become U.S. ambassador to France earlier this year. Thiel, a former Sullivan & Cromwell associate who quit the firm in 1996 to set up a hedge fund that invested in a predecessor to PayPal, was a key investor in Facebook ahead of its IPO last year.
Karsh, a former O’Melveny & Myers associate who co-founded financial services firm Oaktree Capital Management in 1995, saw his net worth rise from $1.15 billion in 2010 after taking Oaktree public last year. (The Oaktree IPO yielded $3.5 million in legal fees and expenses for Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and S&C, according to an SEC filing.)