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Elizabeth Warren says she earned about $1.9 million for legal work while she was a law professor

Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic presidential candidate, spoke during a town hall Sunday in Charleston, S.C.Meg Kinnard/Meg Kinnard via AP

WASHINGTON — Senator Elizabeth Warren on Sunday night released new details about the legal work she took on during her years as a law professor, revealing she made about $1.9 million on cases dating back to 1985.

The disclosure comes as she faces fire from South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, whose aides have fended off calls to open up his closed-door fund-raisers to the press and reveal more details about his work at the consulting firm McKinsey by pointing out that some of Warren’s past legal compensation remained a mystery.

Warren has staked her bid for the presidency on a fiery populism and promises to rein in corporate greed, but for more than 20 years during her career as a law professor she occasionally advised, represented, and served as an expert for corporations including Dow Corning and the insurance company Travelers on cases that sometimes were controversial.


At the time, Warren was one of the nation’s foremost experts in bankruptcy law, and her campaign has said her work involved balancing various competing interests in as fair a way as possible. Now, Warren’s website has been updated to reflect the compensation she received from dozens of legal clients, for cases dated between 1985 and 2009, that she had already disclosed in May.

“If Democrats are going to defeat Donald Trump . . . we must nominate a candidate who can create the most robust possible contrast against Republicans on conflicts of interest and corruption issues,” Warren spokeswoman Kristen Orthman said in a statement.

The disclosure undercuts one of the Buttigieg campaign’s main counterattacks on Warren at a time when tensions between the two campaigns are increasing after Buttigieg spent months slamming Warren’s health care plan. Warren’s allies have called on Buttigieg to disclose the names of his clients during his stint at McKinsey, which he has said he can’t do due to a non-disclosure agreement he’s asked to be released from.


Warren took the rare step of calling Buttigieg out by name last week to say he should open his closed-door fund-raisers to the press and name his bundlers. Warren has sworn off exclusive fund-raisers.

Buttigieg’s campaign shot back by calling on Warren to post more years of tax returns beyond the 11 she has already made public — a demand reiterated by Lis Smith, a senior adviser to Buttigieg, on Thursday night.

“If @ewarren wants to have a debate about transparency, she can start by opening up the doors to the decades of tax returns she’s hiding from her work as a corporate lawyer — often defending the types of corporate bad actors she now denounces,” Smith wrote in response to Warren’s call for more transparency from Buttigieg.

Tax returns, however, would not break down Warren’s income on each case, and a Warren campaign aide said it would be unreasonable to expect her to release decades of tax returns — something no other candidate has done.

Warren’s campaign again called on her rivals to be transparent about their fundraising while releasing her compensation records — a comment that appeared to be aimed straight at Buttigieg.

“Any candidate who refuses to provide basic details about his or her own record and refuses to allow voters or the press to understand who is buying access to their time and what they are getting in return will be seen by voters as part of the same business-as-usual politics that voters have consistently rejected,” Orthman said.


Warren’s past corporate work was a flashpoint in her 2012 run for the Senate, when Republican Scott Brown cast her advocacy for Travelers, which was seeking immunity in asbestos-related lawsuits by setting up a $500 million trust, and for Dow Corning as hypocrisy from the populist candidate.

Warren disclosed Sunday that she made $19,942 when she worked on behalf of Dow Corning when it was settling with women claiming injury for silicone breast implants. She earned $18,708.50 aiding the interests of LTV Steel, which wanted to limit its payments into a fund for miners’ health benefits.

Warren told the Globe in 2012 she was focused in her legal work on ensuring that companies going through bankruptcy could set up trusts to pay out victims. But many companies, like Travelers, would only agree to them if they received protection from future lawsuits.

Some of her income had already been disclosed, like the $212,335 she made representing Travelers in the asbestos-related case. The campaign was also unable to find compensation records for a handful of cases, including on her consulting work for the former directors of Getty Oil after Texaco went bankrupt. Warren’s work for several other clients, including when she represented an environmental lawyer, was pro bono.

Liz Goodwin can be reached at elizabeth.goodwin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizcgoodwin

Jess Bidgood can be reached at Jess.Bidgood@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter@jessbidgood