First it was former Securities and Exchange Commission chair Harvey Pitt who decided to leave the traditional law-firm arrangement and start a consulting company, Kalorama Partners, that would enable him to charge for advice without doing it by hourly rate.
Now Pitt’s mentor at the SEC, former US District Court judge Stanley Sporkin, is following the same path. After leaving the bench, Sporkin joined the prominent New York law firm Weil Gotshal & Manges. But the irascible Sporkin, who had avoided private practice and doesn’t have a bureaucratic mentality, couldn’t warm to hour-by-hour billing sheets. Sporkin is said to be able to size up a complicated situation in a matter of minutes and quickly come up with a plan. Speed is not friendly if you bill by the hour.
So Sporkin has gone off on his own, telling friends, “If Harvey can do it, I can do it.”
He has landed a very big client, BP America, and has been seen around town with BP America president Bob Malone in tow. Sporkin is attempting to guide Malone through a maze of Capitol Hill hearings and state inquests: BP has been under investigation for everything from Alaska pipeline failures to refinery fires and lost its worldwide CEO in a scandal.
Sporkin describes his role for BP as an “ombudsman,” troubleshooting problems and leading a team of investigators through the charges and countercharges.
Malone told The Washingtonian he has never been more comfortable dealing with a lawyer than in working with Sporkin and he loves talking to one without feeling the meter is running. Neither man would reveal the size of the contract, but it’s said to be substantial—more than Sporkin ever made during his years as a judge or at the CIA and SEC.