Weil Gotshal leads pack as firms gobble £50m MCI fees

Legal fees involving the rescue of MCI look set to exceed $100m (£56.6bn) after the telecoms group, formerly known as WorldCom, this week emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Since the group filed for bankruptcy in July 2002, the company is estimated to have spent between $800m (£449.5m) and $1bn (£56m) on lawyers, accountants and consultants.

The main law firms involved in the bankruptcy have so far billed nearly $90m (£50m) in legal fees. This does not include costs for 12 other firms brought in to act on proceedings.

Weil Gotshal & Manges outstrips any of its fellow firms, submitting bills and expenses for $14.1m (£8m) for the period July 2002 to March 2003, while from July 2003 to January 2004, the law firm billed a massive $35m (£19.8m).

Other big billers include Piper Rudnick, which during July 2002 and March 2003 ran up a bill of $12m (£6.8m). Over the same period, Jenner & Block billed around $7m (£4m) and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett totted up fees of $4.3m (£2.4m). In total, Kirkpatrick & Lockhart is believed to have billed $14.3m (£8.1m).

Judge Arthur Gonzalez, the bankruptcy judge who presided over the case, set up a fee audit committee to review costs after becoming concerned at the level of billings.

The committee had recommended that law firms reduce their costs for certain periods. For example, Weil Gotshal was advised to reduce a $6.6m (£3.7m) bill for December 2002 to March 2003 by $566,000 (£320,300).

However, it appears that Weil Gotshal and Jenner & Block received the majority of their billed amounts while Piper Rudnick and Simpson Thacher were remunerated closer to the committee’s findings.