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Leaving Big Law Can Pay Off

Don’t expect to find former DC lawyer Paul Cappuccio joining in on the Bush administration’s criticism of executive pay in corporate America.

By 33, Cappuccio was a full partner at Kirkland & Ellis. He was making a million dollars a year, had been featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, and commuted from his Macomb Street home in alternating Jaguar and Saab convertibles.

Had Cappuccio stayed a lawyer, he might well be making $3 million a year at Kirkland. Instead, Cappuccio took off to work for one of his clients, America Online, then became general counsel at AOL Time Warner when the two companies merged. Although many of the old AOL hands have been purged from Time Warner, Cappuccio has remained—and prospered.

Documents filed by Time Warner show the difference between representing a big company and working for it. Cappuccio’s father was a machine worker, and his mother worked at the candy company that provided the mints for Cappuccio’s Harvard Law School graduation. Last year he earned nearly $5 million in salary, bonus, and long-term compensation. He has homes in Miami Beach, Connecticut, and New York City and drives an S-class Mercedes and a Jeep Commander.

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