Judge Luttig’s new job will probably feature compensation including both an annual salary in seven figures range and substantial stock options.
Some judges do willingly sacrifice their family’s financial well being in order to pursue public service, but the astonishing gap between what state and federal judges are paid in the United States and the kind of money attorneys of equivalent calibre can command in the private sector really ought to provoke reflection.
Do we want the best qualified people on the bench? Or is it more important to limit the compensation of public officials to figures easily defensible to the general public?
These days, one has only to enter an ordinary state court to see talented attorneys, the partners of major firms, and distinguished graduates of top national law schools, strugging to explain cases and the law to much less well-informed judges, the graduates of the humblest law schools, to whom the meagre judicial salaries are actually attractive. When lawyers are normally conspicuously better qualified than judges, we are clearly not paying judges enough.