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Lehman and GM Bankruptcy Charges: $2,100 for Limo Rides, $48 to Leave a Message

Posted May 3, 2010 9:56 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Weil, Gotshal & Manges has billed more than $164 million for its work as lead counsel so far on the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, including more than $500 a day for limo drivers, billed for services in the months after Lehman’s collapse.

But new limits are now in place because of the efforts of Kenneth Feinberg, the New York Times reports. Known as the “pay czar” who is monitoring banks that received bailout money, Feinberg also has a role in the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy as the court-appointed fee monitor. His counterpart in the General Motors bankruptcy is Brady Williamson.

The Times detailed the work of Feinberg and Williamson in a story that also delved into the charges in the Lehman Brothers and other bankruptcies, including $2.54 charged by the Huron Consulting Group for “gum in airport.”

Charges by law firms in the two bankruptcy cases included more than $2,100 for late-night rides home by one partner at Jones Day, and $685 a night for one Weil lawyer’s weeklong stay at the Sherry-Netherland hotel in Manhattan, the story says. Other charges by unnamed consultants and firms included more than $263,000 for photocopies in four months and $48 to leave one message.

But in a deal Feinberg worked out in the Lehman case, there are new limits. They include caps of $100 a day for ground transportation, allowed only after 8 p.m.; $500 a night for hotel rooms; 10 cents a page for photocopies; and $20 a meal for late dinners. Air travel must be coach.

Weil partner Harvey Miller told the Times the law firm’s legal skill in the Lehman case “saved 10,000 jobs and preserved the business itself.” He says the firm will abide by the rules and pick up the difference. But he didn’t sound happy about it.

“When people work late and they want to go home, we don’t like to send people in the subway at midnight or thereafter,” Miller told the Times. “I don’t believe it’s appropriate to require people to fly coach for 15 hours and then go to a meeting.”

Nor is he happy with Williamson’s proposal for a 5 percent cut in its overall rates in the GM bankruptcy. “Williamson is way off base,” Miller told the Times.

“If you had cancer and you were going into an operation, while you were lying on the table, would you look at the surgeon and say, ‘I’d like a 10 percent discount’?” Miller asked the newspaper. “This is not a public, charitable event.”

Headline corrected at 11:40 a.m. to specify that charges were in two bankruptcies.

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