Jane’s work, though, may not necessarily be as pure as the disinterested media believes.
Thanks to wife Jane, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts does not have to rely solely on his piddling $298,500 salary. Jane, a legal headhunter (recruiter) hauled in more than $10 million in eight years matching attorneys with law firms. Nice work if you can get it. Few can.
The legal headhunting business is one of the most unforgiving occupations going. It is brutally competitive. Losers outnumber winners by several orders of magnitude. The annual headhunter turnover rate is way more than 100 percent. Very few succeed. Among them, their average annual compensation is $109,000, less than one-tenth what Jane Roberts makes. The likelihood of success in the headhunting business is infinitesimal. Here’s why:
The vast majority of headhunter legal searches are “contingent,” meaning that whichever headhunter presents a successful candidate to the firm first earns the fee. In many instances, a multitude of headhunters present the same candidate. The first past the post wins. All the others lose, their hard work identifying, vetting and presenting the candidate going for naught.
A much smaller number of searches are either “exclusive” or “retained.” An exclusive search is one where the firm engages only one headhunter. A retained search is one where the firm pays only one headhunter a fee (usually up-front) to find it a suitable employee.
Given her million-dollar-plus annual compensation, I suspect that most of Jane Roberts’ job orders are either exclusive or retained. That’s pretty rarified air in which to practice headhunting.
Do you think Jane’s success is solely because of her extraordinary headhunting competence? Maybe, but it is more likely due to the singular advantage she has over the competition: her husband.
All other things being equal, law firms that work with headhunters would be insane not to favor the wife of the Chief Justice of the United States. You never know when you might represent a client in a case before the Supreme Court. Or when your firm might be asked to submit an amicus brief in such a case. Whether any of this would actually influence the Chief’s vote, it is the appearance of a possible ethical compromise that is at play. Julius Caesar, speaking of himself in the third person (as was his inclination), pronounced that his wife (at the time), Pompeia, “must be above suspicion.” Apparently, what was true 2,000 years ago might no longer be.
Parlaying one’s family member’s exalted position or name for financial gain is as old as pre-recorded history. Hunter Biden is a classic example. Jane Roberts’ relationship may open doors that are closed tight to the rest of the headhunting world.
It may pass the smell test, but perhaps not the sniff test.
May 13, 2023