Here are some eyebrow-raising numbers: According to court papers, Whitehall’s bankruptcy counsel, Proskauer Rose, has asked the court for a cool $1 million for their work so far, plus $65,000 for expenses. And they may have a lot more coming.
Most of that was because of the head lawyer on the case, who charged $750 an hour for his efforts. After billing 266 hours, he made his firm $199,000. Now, let’s break this down. $750 an hour is $12.50 a minute, or one dollar every five seconds. And some of his partners, who didn’t bill as many hours, charged $850 and $885 an hour. Granted, Proskauer Rose is a big firm. But I read those numbers to a lawyer friend of mine, and even he was shocked.
They would no doubt argue, as top lawyers, they deserve what they get. But after talking to a lot of people in this case, the consensus is the lawyers handled things pretty badly. For instance, quite a few of those hours were no doubt devoted to the consignment issue, which they ended up losing. There was also the fight over which liquidator was involved (which they compromised on), and over the “stalking horse” break-up fee, which they lost as well. Whatever purpose all these issues served, they sure increased the billing hours. And many feel that more stores could have been purchased (and jobs saved) if not for all the shenanigans behind the scenes.
Just so this doesn’t become an exercise in lawyer bashing, at least one other Whitehall advisor may make a similar amount. It’s all a little obscene considering how many people are being hurt by this.