Bull Market For Bankruptcy Lawyers

Ironically enough, it’s not all bearish as companies in all industries continue to fail. It’s a bull market for bankruptcy lawyers, as powerhouse firm Sidley Austin is reportedly receiving $1100 per hour to advise on the Tribune Company bankruptcy. This surpasses only Weil, Gotshal & Manges’s fees for presiding over the largest bankruptcy ever filed by Lehman Brothers. Sidley Austin is known for their regulatory expertise.

Tribune, the Chicago-based newspaper publisher taken private by real-estate billionaire Sam Zell, filed bankruptcy Dec. 8. The company sought court approval in a Dec. 26 filing to pay Sidley’s bankruptcy group $575 to $1,100 an hour for partners, $400 to $875 an hour for counsel and senior counsel, $240 to $650 an hour for associates, and $95 to $385 an hour for paraprofessionals.

“That’s the highest hourly rate I have seen or heard of for a bankruptcy lawyer,” said Lynn LoPucki, who teaches bankruptcy law at the University of California at Los Angeles. “For the past 11 years the fees of bankruptcy professionals have been steadily rising — through good times and bad.”

Weil Gotshal partners led by Harvey Miller charge $650 to $950 an hour on Lehman, which filed the biggest bankruptcy in history Sept. 15 with $613 billion in debt.