The Work

December 13, 2011 7:24 PM

As WaMu Reaches Chapter 11 Deal, a Look at Its Biggest Bankruptcy Billers

Posted by Brian Baxter

Once the largest savings and loan association in the United States, Washington Mutual collapsed amid the onset of the global economic crisis in September 2008. JPMorgan Chase subsequently acquired WaMu’s assets for $1.9 billion in an auction supervised by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Since then, Seattle-based WaMu's bankruptcy has played out as a battle between JPMorgan, WaMu, and the FDIC over ownership of the failed bank, while a so-called hipster investor representing himself pro se helped spark an insider trading probe into hedge funds trading in distressed debt.

Now, a settlement between creditors and shareholders on a $7 billion bankruptcy exit plan could allow WaMu to rise from the ashes of Chapter 11, according to a report on Tuesday by sibling publication The Am Law Litigation Daily.

With WaMu keeping more than 20 law firms busy during its Chapter 11 proceedings, The Am Law Daily decided to take a look at the company’s most recent monthly operating report from October to determine which of those firms qualify as the biggest legal billers since WaMu filed for bankruptcy in Wilmington on September 26, 2008.

Below is a list of firms whose legal fees and expenses have been paid by the bankrupt WaMu estate. (A note on fees for firms that are handling securities litigation for former WaMu directors and officers—most, if not all, of those legal bills are being covered by insurance.)

$56.5 million to WaMu's lead bankruptcy counsel at Weil, Gotshal & Manges.

$23.8 million to Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, bankruptcy counsel to WaMu's official committee of unsecured creditors.

$14.7 million to Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, special litigation counsel to WaMu in its 2010 settlement with JPMorgan and the FDIC that left shareholders in the lurch.

$6.2 million to McKenna Long & Aldridge, whose partner Joshua Hochberg issued an examiner's report in the case that found that settlement with JPMorgan and the FDIC to be reasonable.

$3.6 million to Perkins Coie, counsel to WaMu's outside directors in securities litigation.

$3.5 million to John Wolfe, a DLA Piper partner listed as a Seattle solo practitioner, serving as securities and derivatives counsel to WaMu.

$3.4 million to Pepper Hamilton, bankruptcy cocounsel to WaMu's official committee of unsecured creditors.

$3.1 million to WaMu's Delaware bankruptcy counsel at Richards, Layton & Finger.

$3 million to Bingham McCutchen and McKee Nelson, which merged in 2009. The combined entity served as special tax counsel to WaMu while also representing the company in mortgage-backed securities litigation.

$2.6 million to Susman Godfrey, special litigation counsel to WaMu's equity committee. (Partner Justin Nelson once nabbed our Litigator of the Week honors for his efforts in the WaMu case.)

$2.1 million to Delaware's Ashby & Geddes, local counsel to WaMu's equity committee.

$1.8 million to Shearman & Sterling, special tax litigation counsel to WaMu.

$1.5 million to Miller & Chevalier, special tax litigation counsel to WaMu.

$1.1 million to Elliott Greenleaf, special litigation and conflicts counsel to WaMu.

$1.1 million to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, which is handling subprime-related securities class action litigation for WaMu.

$860,227 to Venable, litigation counsel to WaMu's equity committee.

$761,135 to Davis Wright Tremaine, counsel to former WaMu directors and officers in multidistrict class action litigation.

$612,872 to Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, longtime corporate counsel to WaMu (the firm, along with Williams & Connolly and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, is also handling securities litigation against former directors and officers.)

$309,562 to Los Angeles-based bankruptcy boutique Klee, Tuchin, Bogdanoff & Stern, special litigation counsel to WaMu.

$90,831 to Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, special securities counsel to WaMu's equity committee.

$54,315 to mid-Atlantic firm Cole, Schotz, Meisel, Forman & Leonard, local counsel to McKenna Long's Hochberg as examiner.

$30,844 to Delaware’s Sullivan Hazeltine Allinson, local counsel to WaMu's equity committee.

$26,420 to Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff, Delaware and conflicts counsel to WaMu's equity committee.

$22,010 to Silverstein & Pomerantz, special tax counsel to WaMu.


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