Attorney Fees

Lead Bankruptcy Law Firm for Dewey & LeBoeuf Seeks Court OK to Charge Up to $935 Per Hour

On the eve of a Tuesday afternoon conference call at which former partners of Dewey & LeBoeuf will learn more about the financial issues they face in the law firm’s ongoing New York bankruptcy case, another significant expense could be looming.

In a Friday filing, the firm’s lead bankruptcy counsel, Togut Segal & Segal, asked for approval of a fee schedule that tops out at $935 per billable hour for the highest-paid partners, according to Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal Law Blog.

An article (PDF) posted on the Department of Justice website points out that it isn’t just those potentially footing the bill who are questioning such rates.

“Not surprisingly, public attention also has focused on professional fees in major Chapter 11 cases,” write Clifford J. White, who serves as director of the U.S. Trustees executive office, and co-author Walter W. Theus Jr., a trial attorney in the general counsel’s office. “The raw numbers are eye-catching, running into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Although professionals are quick to defend their fees and expenses, billing rates of $1,000 per hour for partners and $400 for inexperienced associates are difficult to explain in our current economic climate. Evidence of improper expense reimbursements, even small ones (e.g., a professional billing an estate for a pack of chewing gum), reinforces the perception of abusive billing.”

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