Lord Goldsmith, who stepped down as Britain’s attorney-general in June and is best remembered for his controversial advice to former prime minister Tony Blair on the legality of the war in Iraq, is to join a heavyweight US law firm.
The move, announced on Wednesday, is unprecedented for a former top government law officer and cabinet member.
It is, however, likely to be hailed as coup by New York-based Debevoise & Plimpton, and to be seen as another sign of how serious the big US law firms are about challenging Britain’s top players on their home turf.
Lord Goldsmith, who had a background in commercial law before joining the government, will become European chair of litigation dealing with a wide range of cases ranging from commercial disputes to international arbitration.
He declined to discuss his remuneration, saying it was a private matter, but he does intend to become an equity partner.
Debevoise, known for its prominent role in big corporate litigation and financial transactions, is one of the most prestigious and lucrative law firms in the US. Average profits per partner are put at over $1.8m. Afficionados of TV’s The West Wing series will also have heard its name featured on several occasions.
Lord Goldsmith stepped down as attorney-general in June, one of a series of ministerial departures which coincided with Tony Blair’s move out of Downing Street.