Bankruptcy lawyers' latest monthly bill to Grace: $2.4 million

Steve Korris Oct. 16, 2008, 2:00pm



The law firm of Kirkland & Ellis, which has helped represent W.R. Grace for seven years in bankruptcy, has billed Grace's estate for about $98 million in fees since 2001.

Kirkland & Ellis, with offices in New York and Chicago, hasn't collected that much because bankruptcy courts apply a 20 percent discount to legal fees.

So that means attorney David Bernick of Kirkland & Ellis receives only $732 an hour from Grace, rather than the $915 hourly rate on his bill.

In Kirkland & Ellis's latest monthly bill from August, Bernick billed $175,405.50.

His partner, Theodore Freedman, billed $202,895, for 238.7 hours at $850 an hour. His hours roughly equal eight a day, including Saturdays and Sundays.

Other highlights of the monthly bill which totaled $2.4 million:

  • Forty-three other Kirkland & Ellis attorneys billed Grace about $1.7 million for August, at an average of 70 hours each, with hourly rates from $350 to $915.

  • Kirkland & Ellis also billed $295,140.50 for 13 legal assistants, seven law clerks, seven project assistants, six case assistants, three technology services workers, an investigator consultant and a research specialist, at hourly rates from $125 to $305.

  • The firm also asked Grace to reimburse more than $150,000 in expenses, including $11,767.36 for airfare, $3,399 for catering, and $651.62 for overtime meals.

    The August fee application took 35 hours to fill out and will add about $10,000 to the September bill, according to Kirkland & Ellis.

    Many other law firms draw fees from Grace in its bankruptcy.

    The Pachulski firm of Wilmington, Del., as local counsel, has billed about $3 million.

    Grace also pays accountants and other professionals.

    The case docket holds about 20,000 entries, most of them relating to fees and expenses.

    Asbestos plaintiffs, meanwhile, don't fare as well.

    In March, their lawyers settled about a million current and future lawsuits for a few hundred dollars per claim now and a little more than that later.

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