Legal Technology

Excel Error by a Cleary Gottlieb Associate Alters Lehman Asset Deal


A first-year associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton made an Excel reformatting error that mistakenly added 179 contracts to an agreement to buy Lehman Brothers assets, according to a motion filed with a New York bankruptcy court on Friday.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton represents Barclays Capital Inc. in its agreement to buy the assets. Its motion (PDF posted by Above the Law) says the law firm was working under a tight deadline when the mistake was made, Computerworld reports.

The motion seeks to exclude the 179 contracts from the purchase agreement.

Above the Law was the first to report the error. Its story said the mistake happened at around 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 18 when a second-year associate asked a first-year associate to reformat an Excel document of critical Lehman contracts to be assumed by Barclays.

The associate resized the rows when converting the spreadsheet into a PDF document, causing “hidden” contracts in the spreadsheet to be exposed. The spreadsheet, which had been e-mailed to the law firm by a Lehman representative, contained nearly 1,000 rows and more than 24,000 individual cells.

The problem was discovered by lawyers on Oct. 1.

Hat tip to Legal Blog Watch.

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