Written by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
Partner-level attorneys representing Tribune Co. with their recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing are charging as much as $1,100 per hour. Tribune Co., a Chicago-based newspaper publisher, is the former owner of Newsday.
Lawyers at Sidley Austin, one of the nation’s largest and most prominent law firms with 1,800 lawyers, are asking as much as $1,100 an hour for bankruptcy work on Tribune Co., surpassing the rates previously charged by another national law firm heavyweight, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, in the Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. Bankruptcy case, one of the largest in history.
Sidley Austin is the law firm where President-elect Barack Obama once worked and met his wife-to-be Michelle. Senior partners in the firm are charging hourly rates between $575 to $1,100 an hour, according to a recent bankruptcy court filing seeking approval of the rates. Other lawyers in the firm are seeking hourly rates of $400 to $875.
Some commentators have stated that this appears to be the highest hourly rate ever heard of for a bankruptcy lawyer.
Sidley is even seeking to have its associates working on the case paid $240 to $650 an hour, and its paralegals $95 to $385 an hour.
As far as the pre-petition retainer, Tribune paid Sidley $4.5 million about two weeks before the filing.
The hourly rates far surpass the rates charged by Long Island bankruptcy lawyers where most attorneys charge hourly fees that are less than the highest hourly fee charged by a Sidley paralegal.