Jenner & Block Used ‘Stupid’ Search in Sorting Through Lehman E-Mails

A “stupid” search turned out to be productive for lawyers at Jenner & Block.

“Stupid” was among the search terms used by the Chicago-based law firm as it sorted through some 34 million pages of e-mails and other electronic documents for its 2,200-page report on the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Bloomberg News reports.

Jenner partner Robert Byman told Bloomberg that about 20 lawyers at the firm were “told to sit down and be as imaginative as you can” to come up with terms for the electronic searches. Jenner’s chairman, Anton Valukas, was the bankruptcy examiner charged with examining the investment bank’s dealings. His March report alleged Lehman inflated the value of toxic assets, put out misleading financial statements, and used a “Repo 105” accounting device to keep debt off the books.

Bloomberg says these search terms produced results: Just between us, stupid, discuss, big trouble, risk, concern, breach, target, too late.

Former CEO Richard “Dick” Fuld replied “let’s discuss,” when told of tight credit markets. One executive told of a “motivational” presentation by Fuld, and wrote, “I continue to be somewhat confused as to what the real objectives of the firm are around managing financial and risk constraints vs. revenue growth.”

Another e-mail from a Lehman executive charged with limiting Lehman’s leverage warned, “We are probably going to get punished for our stupidity.”

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