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February 22, 2010 12:03 PM

The Lehman Brothers Bill: $641.9 Million and Counting

Posted by Zach Lowe

Late Friday, the Lehman Brothers estate submitted an updated accounting of the fees it has paid to bankruptcy advisers through the end of January, and that tab now stands at $641.9 million and could well reach the $1 billion mark, according to Bloomberg and the estate's SEC filing

According to our math, a smidgen less than half of that amount has gone to the various law firms working for Lehman and its creditors. A total of 15 law firms (not including the estate's fee examiner) have billed Lehman $310,791,000 since Lehman filed for bankruptcy on September 15, 2008. Not surprisingly, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, Lehman's lead debtor counsel, leads the way among the law firms, racking up total fees and costs of about $149.5 million over that 16-month period. That's hardly surprising given that the Lehman case is widely considered the most complex bankruptcy in, well, the history of bankruptcy, and, according to various court filings, Weil has had some 500 total lawyers work on the case at some point during the proceedings

All that notwithstanding, here's a stunning number gleaned from the latest filing: Weil has billed the Lehman estate an average of about $300,000 per day since Lehman filed its Chapter 11 case. 

Other big law firm billers listed in Friday's filing include: Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCoy, which has billed about $42.3 million for its role as lead counsel to the creditors committee in the case; Jenner & Block, the special examiner looking into the events leading to Lehman's bankruptcy, which has billed nearly $39 million; Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle, Lehman's special conflicts counsel, has billed about $13.8 million; and Bingham McCutchen, Lehman's tax counsel, has billed about $9.1 million. 

The full list of firms and advisers can be found at the SEC filing linked above. None of the law firms can touch Alvarez & Marsal, which is listed as providing "interim management" to the estate and has supplied its current chief executive, Bryan Marsal. The Lehman estate, the filing shows, has already paid Alvarez & Marsal about $233 million.

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