With an annual salary of roughly $6.3 million per year, Christopher Wray is a rarity among Big Law equity partners, particularly for partners at Atlanta-based firms. Wray, the Trump administration's nominee to replace fired FBI director James Comey, chairs King & Spalding's special matters and government investigations practice, a key area for his firm. This week, ahead of his Wednesday confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Wray, 50, disclosed that the firm had paid him $9.2 million from the beginning of 2016 through mid-June.
That works out to an average of $528,000 per month, or $6.3 million annually.
Jeffrey Lowe, who heads Major, Lindsey & Africa's global legal recruiting practice, said the figure sounds extraordinarily high because it is. Lowe authors a survey of partner compensation at the nation's largest firms in conjunction with ALM Legal Intelligence. Despite rising partner profits at many top firms, he said very few partners make more than $5 million, especially outside the Wall Street elite.
"That's why they're the unicorns," Lowe said. And when it comes to Wray, Lowe said, "He's got a pretty big horn."
"I would estimate that he's in the top 10 percent of the top one percent," he added. "He's as rare as you would think he is."
Of the 2,137 U.S. partners (equity and non-equity) from Am Law 200, NLJ 350 and Global 100 firms who responded to Major Lindsey's 2016 partner compensation survey, only five reported compensation of more than $8 million. The survey reports compensation anonymously.