Law firms to reap millions

According to people involved in the negotiations, there are more than two dozen core U.S. and Canadian law firms with hundreds of lawyers working for General Motors, Chrysler, Fiat, Washington, Ottawa and Ontario and various government agencies. By some estimates, these central firms stand to reap hundreds of millions of dollars in fees by the time both companies have completed their restructurings.

The Globe and Mail
May 1, 2009

Law firms to reap millions
Chrysler Bankruptcy: Auto Overhaul
Jacquie McNish

For the dozens of Canadian and U.S. law firms that are hired to oversee the financial makeover of Chrysler and General Motors, the mandates couldn't have come at a better time.

The U.S. legal profession has been rocked by thousands of layoffs and several failures of big firms in the past six months. In Canada, firms have just started to jettison staff and slash costs. The global recession and financial crisis has taken such a heavy toll on law firms that one of Washington's central firms on the auto file, Thacher Proffitt & Wood, closed its doors earlier this year after 160 years of business.

For remaining firms, the auto sector assignments will likely be one of the most lucrative files of the year. According to people involved in the negotiations, there are more than two dozen core U.S. and Canadian law firms with hundreds of lawyers working for General Motors, Chrysler, Fiat, Washington, Ottawa and Ontario and various government agencies. By some estimates, these central firms stand to reap hundreds of millions of dollars in fees by the time both companies have completed their restructurings.
Last month, Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, which is the lead adviser for General Motors, asked a judge to approve $55.1-million in fees this month for less than four months of work in the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holding Inc. Legal experts said the auto restructurings won't be as complex or as expensive as Lehman's liquidation that has entangled hundreds of financial players across the globe.

In Canada, the big legal winners are McCarthy T├ętrault LLP, acting for Chrysler Canada; Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, General Motors Canada; Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, federal government; McMillan LLP, Export Development Corporation; and Goodmans LLP, Ontario.

In the United States, the big law firm winners are the U.S. Treasury Department's lead legal advisers, Cadwalader Wickersham and Taft LLP, Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP, and Haynes and Boone LLP. Chrysler's lead law firm is Jones Day.

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