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December 2, 2008 4:33 PM

Jones Day on a Big Three Bankruptcy? You Decide.

Posted by Brian Baxter

A week ago, The Am Law Daily ran this story handicapping which big firms would be involved in a potential bankruptcy filing by one of the Big Three U.S. automakers. With executives from Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors back on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to press their claims for billions in federal bridge loans, we couldn't help wondering again: Exactly who are the legal hands behind the scenes?

Just before Thanksgiving, we received a tip pointing us to a photo that accompanied a story in the November 20 national edition of The New York Times. Our tipster said the picture clearly shows Jones Day litigation head Thomas "Tim" Cullen, Jr., and bankruptcy practice founding partner David Heiman sitting behind a row of empty chairs reserved for auto executives.

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Like Kennedy assassination obsessives analyzing still shots from the Zapruder film, we've sorted through dozens of wire images to find the shot in question until, finally, we turned up the above photo, taken by Chip Somodevilla (and provided courtesy of Getty Images; for an enlarged view, click on the image).

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Look carefully, and you'll see that behind the two empty seats marked "Reserved for CHRYSLER," are two men who bear an uncanny resemblance to Heiman and Cullen. The Heiman lookalike (the real one is pictured at left) is on the phone; the Cullen-esque character (the real one is pictured below)--and believe us when we say we know a distinctively ruddy Irish complexion when we see one--has the look of a spy trying to be inconspicuous by reading a newspaper on a park bench or in an airport.

So judge for yourself, Am Law Daily readers. Does the picture present irrefutable photographic evidence that Jones Day is already playing a role in trying to clean up this Big Auto mess?

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We've written before that Jones Day has the "rust belt" connections necessary for a Big Auto assignment. And if Heiman and Cullen aren't involved, it sure looks like they have good congressional connections to score prime seats at a critical hearing.

Neither Heiman nor Cullen were immediately available for comment. At the time this story was posted today, a firm spokesman had not yet responded to a request for comment about the firm's involvement in a possible Big Three bankruptcy filing--or whether the Jones Day duo or their doppelgangers were in those front row seats two week ago.

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So does this mean that Cruella DeVille now represents GM?

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