Lehman’s legacy continues to haunt

It’s Friday the 13th, punk. Fancy something spooky? For those suffering friggatriskaidekaphobia – that’s a fear of Friday 13 – we’ll keep it light. This tale doesn’t involve mythological black cats, umbrella moments or rickety ladders.

Instead we’re talking the defining moment of the credit crunch – five years ago this weekend, Lehman Brothers collapsed like a crème brule and the banking world stood still.

I know friggatriskaidekaphobics, we said light. But while this reminder might send shivers down some spines, for some firms it has meant millions of pounds in fees. Among the biggest billers have been Weil Gotshal & Manges, acting for Lehman, Linklaters, which reportedly earned the lions share of £60.5m paid to lawyers in the UK in the 12 months following the collapse, and Milbank, legal adviser to the creditors’ committee. The City’s banks also clamoured for the cream of Lehman Brothers’ in-house lawyers following the collapse, on 15 September 2008, with many setting up special processes to deal with the demand.

“I don’t think any of us actually thought it would really go under,” wrote Linklaters partner Tony Bugg for The Lawyer in 2009. Allen & Overy’s Kevin O’Shea, David Morley and Ashurst’s Stephen Lloyd also recorded their memories of the day.

With the repercussions still being felt in the legal world, few funny bones will be tickled this afternoon. Let’s hope lessons have been learnt from Lehman’s legacy.

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