The Talent

June 18, 2010 3:52 PM

Bryan Cave's Cole Weathers Nomination Storm

Posted by Brian Baxter

Cole Bryan Cave's James Cole, the Obama administration's nominee for the number 2 spot at Main Justice, faced some tough questioning from a congressional committee this week.

Not only did Republicans take the Bryan Cave partner to task over his work as an independent monitor at AIG, they also focused on a an opinion piece he wrote in 2002 criticizing the Bush administration's terrorism-fighting policies in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001. (Cole included the column, written for sibling publication Legal Times, in a packet of materials he submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of the confirmation process.)

Cole, reportedly a longtime friend of current U.S. attorney general Eric Holder, Jr., joined Bryan Cave in 1995 after spending 13 years at the Justice Department (he eventually became chief of the public integrity section at Main Justice).

Cole served as court-appointed monitor for AIG as part of a 2004 securities fraud settlement between the company and the federal government and, as previously reported by The Am Law Daily, he represented former Proskauer Rose partner Thomas Sjoblom when the lawyer resigned from the firm last year in the wake of the collapse of Allen Stanford's business empire.

One legislator pressing Cole is Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley--the same senator who's now raising hackles over a revolving door at the SEC. Grassley's office recently put out a press release announcing that he would seek answers from Cole about the financial collapse of AIG in late 2008.

Cole attempted to appease his critics with his testimony. About AIG, Cole said the company "resisted some of my efforts, but I insisted on tough measures." The National Law Journal, a sibling publication, reports that Cole also defended his record on terrorism, testifying that he'd "use every tool" to thwart future attacks and endorsed civilian and military court for trying terror suspects.

Earlier this month Cole disclosed his net worth to be roughly $7 million, according to his 57-page public financial disclosure form obtained by The NLJ.

Cole listed his 2009 partnership income from Bryan Cave to be $900,336, well above the $622,579 profits per equity partner reported by The American Lawyer in May as part of the annual Am Law 100 ranking. Cole stated that so far in 2010, he'd received partnership distributions from Bryan Cave totaling $225,000.

If Cole is confirmed, he will receive an additional $263,400 from his capital account at the firm, The NLJ reports.

Photo: Diego Radzinschi, The National Law Journal

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