Weil Gotshal's Lehman bill reaches $442m, final fee application reveals

Weil Gotshal & Manges has racked up roughly $442m (£285m) in fees and expenses representing the bankrupt estate of Lehman Brothers over the past three-and-a-half years, according to the final fee request submitted in connection with the firm’s work on the case, reports The Am Law Daily.

Weil’s final fee application shows that the firm has generated nearly $431.6m (£279m) in fees for professional services rendered and $11.1m (£7.2m) in expenses for its efforts during the massive Chapter 11 case – the largest in US history.

Those amounts represent the cumulative totals of sums previously detailed by Weil in monthly and interim fee applications filed over the course of the lengthy proceedings.

In its final request for compensation, Weil claims that “professionals in each of [the firm's] twenty domestic and international offices were called upon to represent the interests of the Debtors,” as well as various affiliates, noting that without the “judgment, diligence, creativity, and tireless effort‚” of the firm’s employees, it would have been nearly impossible to resolve in “little more than three years‚” the large and “incredibly complex” Lehman cases.

The filing further states that Weil lawyers and staff combined to bill a total of more than 747,000 hours on the Lehman bankruptcy and related matters, and adds that while the firm’s results were “extraordinary and present a foundation for fee enhancement, Weil has determined to forego any such request.”

Weil also claims that as a result of its work as lead debtors’ counsel on the Lehman case, “projected recoveries for holders of allowed claims are expected to exceed $70bn (£45bn),” while the firm managed to reduce total claims against the bankrupt estate from $1.2trn (£775bn) to less than $500m (£323m).

Before its collapse in the fall of 2008, Lehman was one of Weil’s largest clients. The firm collected $51.8m (£33.5m) in fees from the US financial services giant in the year prior to its bankruptcy filing, according to The Am Law Daily’s previous reports. Weil then famously helped Lehman prepare for its ignominious end in record time amid the onset of the global financial crisis.

The Lehman case concluded in March, with Weil bankruptcy practice founder Harvey Miller and business finance and restructuring partner Lori Fife working on the case until the end. Only restructuring and turnaround firm Alvarez & Marsal has reaped more in Lehman-related fees.

According to data compiled by The American Lawyer for its annual Am Law 100 surveys, Weil took in roughly $3.6bn (£2.3bn) in gross revenue between 2009 and 2011. That means the firm’s fees and expenses on the Lehman case accounted for 10%-12% of that total.

The Am Law Daily is a US affiliate title of Legal Week.