Robinhood's top lawyer made $30 million in eight months, more than anybody else at the company

Daniel Gallagher

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Daniel Gallagher, a former Securities and Exchange Commission official who joined Robinhood in May as its top lawyer, was also the company’s highest-paid employee last year, S-1 filings show.

Co-founders Vlad Tenev and Baiju Bhatt each took home well under $1 million, and Jason Warnick, who joined as CFO in 2018, made $18 million. Gallagher took home $30 million. Some five-sixths of his total compensation came from stock awards, with another $4.2 million coming in the form of cash bonuses, options, and base salary.

Gallagher and his team of lawyers are tasked with handling the slew of legal issues Robinhood faces. The trading app was hit by about 50 lawsuits after it blocked purchases of GameStop, AMC, and other companies swept up in a trading frenzy in January, according to its S-1 filing.

The company said it anticipates more litigation ahead, including consumer protection, privacy, and cybersecurity disputes. 

Robinhood also expects heightened scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators like the SEC.

Gallagher, a former SEC commissioner, will also handle regulatory changes that could significantly impact Robinhood’s business. For instance, the practice of payment for order flow (PFOF), which has been the target of multiple government investigations, could be substantially limited or banned entirely, upending Robinhood’s entire business model, according to the S-1.

Other senior executives at Robinhood made less than Gallagher last year, but they still stand to profit after the company starts trading. Both Tenev and Bhatt, the company’s other co-founder and chief creative officer, have $47 million in unvested shares, with another $225 million each in other unvested awards, according to the S-1. Warnick also began vesting 700,000 shares, worth $11 million, in 2018.

Chief legal officers and general counsel aren’t usually paid more than other top executives at companies looking to go public. Only four of the 19 companies whose registration statements became public this week disclosed the pay of their top lawyers, according to a review of filings on Sentieo.

But companies facing a high degree of legal or regulatory risk have paid top dollar for legal talent. Paul Grewal, a former senior lawyer at Facebook who became the top legal official at Coinbase, was paid $18 million in 2020, the cryptocurrency exchange revealed when it filed papers to go public.

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