Legal Fee Voyeurism

Stanley M. Chesley

Has the “master of disaster” been mastered by disaster? Has a class-action king been stripped of his crown?

It would seem so. One of the nation’s most famous and successful plaintiffs’ lawyers, Stanley M. Chesley, just got disbarred.

Cue the schadenfreude. We heard about the news from numerous tipsters. “Time to downgrade your Maybach and jet,” gloated one.

What makes it even better, of course, is that Stan Chesley is married to a federal judge, the Honorable Susan J. Dlott (S.D. Ohio). What’s that old saying about Caesar’s wife?

So what got this high-flying class-action lawyer grounded? Hint: it’s all about the benjamins….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer of the Day: Stan Chesley, Disbarred Husband of a Federal Judge”

The client always has more leverage but certainly, for the high-end work, the firm is calling the shots.

Kent Zimmermann, a consultant with Zeughauser Group, commenting on the premium hourly fees charged by Biglaw attorneys in sought-after practice areas like mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and securities, white-collar defense, and litigation.

(That’s interesting, but what were the highest and lowest rates for partners and associates in 2012? We’ve got that info, and more, after the jump.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Quote of the Day: But How Much Do They Charge?”

American Airlines: something bankrupt in the air.

Complaining about air travel has become a cliché — but it’s still fun. The other night, while flying out to San Francisco for an event I’m doing on Monday (to which you’re invited), I was delayed by two and a half hours — due to a plane turned “biohazard.”

My experience — with United Airlines, which I generally like — pales in comparison to what the novelist Gary Shteyngart experienced recently with American Airlines. He wrote about in a New York Times piece that’s horrifying and hilarious.

But some folks have much warmer feelings for AA — namely, the lawyers and law firms that are making millions from the American Airlines bankruptcy case. Let’s find out how much they are seeking in fees….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Fee Voyeurism: American Airlines’s Big-Time Bankruptcy Bills”

On Friday afternoon, after just under three days of deliberation, the Apple v. Samsung jury came back with a tidy little verdict awarding just over $1 billion to Apple. Meanwhile, Samsung got nothing on its counterclaims.

It was a big win for Apple, and it came surprisingly quickly. As Elie pointed out, it would take many smart people more than three days to even understand all the the terms within the 109 pages of jury instructions. Aside from the jury itself, it seemed no one was ready for the verdict. One attorney for Apple even showed up in a polo shirt.

Let’s have a post-mortem run through of the case (and a quick-and-dirty look at the massive attorneys’ fees incurred by both sides)….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Apple v. Samsung: Where Do We Go Now?”

pile of cash or money Above the Law Legal Blog.JPGToday is a banner day for mergers-and-acquisitions lawyers. Our big brother takes note of Blackstone Group’s gigantic proposed buyout of Equity Office Properties Trust, the nation’s largest office-building owner and manager, for roughly $36 billion ($20 billion plus $16 billion in assumed debt).
And that’s not the only deal. The WSJ Law Blog ticks off three more billion-dollar transactions: Bank of America acquiring U.S. Trust, Freeport-McMoRan acquiring Phelps Dodge, and Evraz Group acquiring Oregon Steel Mills.
Biglaw shops are involved in all of these transactions. The lucky law firms: Sidley Austin, Simpson Thacher, Cleary Gottlieb, Howard Rice, Wachtell Lipton, Davis Polk, Debevoise & Plimpton, Covington & Burling, and Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt (of Oregon).
Okay, “lucky” may not be the right term for people who have probably been pulling one all-nighter after another over the past few weeks (or months). But let’s look on the bright side: the fees from these deals will be delicious. And they’re likely to mean very good associate bonuses for 2006.
How delicious? This is where you come in. For this latest edition of Legal Fee Voyeurism, we’d like to ask you for any information, rumors, or quasi-informed speculation about the fees that firms will be earning on these deals. And, of course, we’re always interested in the related subject of associate bonus scuttlebutt.
Please send any such tips our way, by email. Thanks!
The Biggest LBO Ever: Does The Blackstone REIT Deal Mark the Beginning of the End of Public Companies? [DealBreaker]
M&A Mania: Good for the Lawyers! [WSJ Law Blog]

cash pile or money pile.jpgWe previously put out a call for juicy info about big-ticket legal fees. Consider that discovery request still pending; you haven’t given us much in response.
Instead, we have to rely upon other sources for information about fees. Like NYU law professor Burt Neuborne’s five-million-dollar tab for his work for Holocaust survivors, reported in the MSM. Or this latest news, from the AP:

Republican Rep. John Doolittle of California paid an attorney more than $38,000 in recent months to talk to the Justice Department in connection with the Jack Abramoff lobbying investigation, new campaign finance reports show.

A spokeswoman said the money was spent after Doolittle asked his attorney, David Barger [of Williams Mullen], to contact the Justice Department “to further express the congressman’s willingness to be helpful and satisfy the Justice Department that the congressman has done nothing wrong.”

Interesting. Barger is a very experienced lawyer and former federal prosecutor. We’re guessing he bills out at $500 an hour (at least; correct us if we’re wrong). That comes out to at least 75 hours worth of work, which is not insignificant. Clearly Barger did more than just have a two-hour sitdown with DOJ lawyers to earn almost $40K in fees.
And Barger isn’t Congressman Doolittle’s only counsel:

The campaign finance report also shows Doolittle paying $13,000 in legal fees to a second law firm, Wiley Rein & Fielding LLP, that he has used regularly for years.

Wiley Rein & Fielding, of course, is the top-flight, right-leaning D.C. law firm, with excellent connections within the Administration.
It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds. If you know anything, drop us a line.
Doolittle Paid Lawyer to Talk to Agency [Associated Press]
David G. Barger bio [Williams Mullen]
Wiley Rein & Fielding LLP [official website]
Earlier: Legal Fee Voyeurism: Seeking Submissions

pile of cash or money.jpgRecently we asked you for juicy gossip about gigantic legal fees. We didn’t expect to receive a response so quickly. From the WSJ Law Blog:

NYU Law School professor Burt Neuborne worked for nearly eight years to help Holocaust survivors win a $1.25 billion settlement from Swiss banks accused of helping the Nazis steal Jewish property. He then submitted a bill for $4,760,000. The rest, as they say, is controversy.

New York magazine has a feature on the fee flap. A group of Holocaust survivors are furious with Neuborne for charging so much money for his services. Many say they thought Neuborne had taken the case pro bono and that he had said so many times. The executive director of the World Jewish Congress calls the bill a “moral disgrace.” Neuborne already made $4.4 million in a similar suit against German industry.

This got us thinking about other law professors who handle litigation or serve as consultants on the side — and get paid handsomely for it. A few examples off the top of our head: Laurence Tribe, of Harvard Law School (litigation, esp. appellate litigation); Alan Dershowitz, also of HLS (helping to get rich people out of deep doo-doo); George Priest, of Yale Law School (consulting, expert witness service); Dean Dan Fischel, of the University of Chicago (law and economics consulting).
In the comments to this post — or by email if you prefer — please share with us any dirt on this subject. The more specific the information — dollar figures if you know them (or can guess) — the better. Thanks!
The Neuborne Fee Flap Takes Center Stage [WSJ Law Blog]
Getting His Due: NYU Law Professor Burt Neuborne Was Hailed as a Hero. Then He Submitted His Bill [New York Magazine]
Earlier: Legal Fee Voyeurism: Seeking Submissions

cash pile or money pile.jpgLast week, the New York Law Journal brought us news of this sizable transaction:

Freescale Semiconductor Inc., the third-largest chipset maker in the nation, has been acquired by a consortium of private equity groups, led by The Blackstone Group and consisting of The Carlyle Group, Texas Pacific Group and Permira Funds. The Austin, Texas company is valued at $17.6 billion; the purchasers will also pay off Freescale’s debts, amounting to $1.25 billion, making the total worth of the transaction roughly $19 billion.

Here are the firms involved in the deal, a veritable legal fee bonanza:

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom led representation for the entire consortium, while Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton assisted in advising every group except Blackstone and Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson counseled Permira. Palo Alto, Calif.-based Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati represented Freescale.

WOW — more law firms than you can shake a stick at. This deal’s a permanent employment act for corporate lawyers.
And Freescale isn’t the only eleven-figure transactions announced in recent weeks. It’s small potatoes compared to the $33 billion HCA buyout over the summer.
Now, the important stuff: How much did these firms earn for their work on this transaction — or any other recent transactions you’re aware of?
Unlike the (much larger) fees of investment bankers, the advisory fees of law firms in M&A deals are usually not disclosed in public filings. So if you have any reasonably informed guesses — or, better yet, actual knowledge — of the filthy lucre firms have bagged for this or other recent deals, please email us (subject line: “Legal Fee Voyeurism”). Thanks!
NY Partners and Associates Working on Billion Dollar Deals [New York Law Journal]