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August 18, 2009 9:46 AM

Weil is Poised to Pass $100 Million Mark in Lehman Fees

Posted by Zach Lowe


We may have to scan the dockets of the largest bankruptcies in recent U.S. history to see if any of them produced so much legal work as quickly as the Lehman Brothers Chapter 11 has since the bank filed for bankruptcy almost exactly 11 months ago. 

To wit: Weil, Gotshal & Manges filed it second application for legal fees and expenses late Monday, and, if approved, the firm will have crossed the $100 million mark in total billings if one includes so-called hold back payments the court will distribute at a later date. 

The second application covers four months--Feb. 1 through May 31--and it comes just a few days after Judge James Peck of federal bankruptcy court in Manhattan approved Weil's initial request for about $55 million in fees and expenses for the period of Sept. 15, 2008 through January of this year. As the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, that application got the approval of not only Peck, but also a special fee committee headed up by Kenneth Feinberg (the Obama administration's pay czar). 

The newest application (which you can download below) says Weil lawyers billed more than 86,000 hours over those four months, which breaks down roughly to 700 or so hours per day, seven days a week. The request--which includes $45,227,832.25 in fees and $1.2 million in expenses--amounts to about $375,000 per day over those four months--about the same level Weil billed in the first four plus months of the Chapter 11 case. One way to look at that number is to say that Weil is churning out about $15,500 worth of legal work every 24 hours. Wow. 

And there is a ton of work to be done. The firm is unwinding tens of thousands of derivatives contracts, trying to track down borrowers who owe Lehman and working on more than a dozen transactions in which Lehman will unload (or has already unloaded) some of its most-prized assets in order to raise cash. In all, Weil lawyers helped recover about $3 billion in cash for Lehman's estate between February and May, the filing says. 

Some notes of interest from the filing:

• Weil billed $692,724.91 in expenses for computer research and another $67,000 or so for meals. The firm says it is attempting to follow various billing guidelines set by Feinberg, including limiting meals to $20 per person and limiting late-night car service trips to $100 apiece. 

• The winner for biggest biller? That would be (once again) a collection of six London-based partners billing $1,005 per hour after exchange rates, a smidgen higher than Weil's bankruptcy chair, Harvey Miller, who is billing $950 an hour. 

• The honor for most hours worked between February and May goes to bankruptcy associate Sunny Singh, who worked just more than 988 hours on the Lehman matter in that time frame. That works out to about eight hours a day, seven days a week. 

Download Lehman fees

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