End of the road as Coudert files for bankruptcy

Defunct firm Coudert Brothers is nearing its official end after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the Southern District of New York Bankruptcy Court late on Friday.

In a petition, the firm stated that it did not have sufficient funds to post appeal bonds to challenge two court judgments against it, including a $2.5m award in a legal malpractice suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Coudert claimed that it also faced a number of suits, believed to number more than 20, from landlords, vendors and several partners seeking the return of capital contributions.

As exclusively reported in The Lawyer (18 September), Coudert, which announced its break-up last August, has liabilities estimated to total almost $25m (£13.25m), not including its secured debt and potential future litigation results.

However, the Chapter 11 filing had been delayed until Coudert completed the transfer of its mainland China offices to Orrick. It is also due to receive a payment of around $1.4m (£740,000) for the offices.

Friday’s petition also confirmed that the firm had already satisfied major creditors including Citibank and JPMorganChase. The firm’s original bank debt was estimated to total $22.7m.

The firm now expects to recover about $1.5m from overseas accounts that former partners were now improperly controlling and $10m in contingent fees in matters that remain pending.