Kirkland & Ellis bills $5m for United restructuring

Kirkland & Ellis is set to rack up more than $5m (£3.1m) in legal fees for seven weeks work on the restructuring of United Airlines, a case which is expected to last for 18 months in total

In a 717-word document, Kirkland, which is representing the airline that filed for Chapter 11 protection on 9 December last year, has broken down the $2.9m (£1.8m) in fees and $207,478.14 (£130,105.70) in related expenses on the complex case.

The firm states that it will charge $2.63m (£1.64m), 90 per cent, of the total $2.9m for work in January. The additional 10 per cent of fees will be assessed by Chief Judge Eugene Wedoff at a later date.

According to reports, the firm has already had $2.3m (£1.4m) in fees and expenses approved for three weeks work in December .

This latest round has yet to be approved. But even putting together the voluminous application is proving to be expensive work. According to the document, fee applications and monthly statements, which also includes conflict checking, took 302.90 hours and cost $79,447 (£49,823.42) in fees.

James Sprayregen, a restructuring partner at Kirkland who is leading the team on the deal, told The Lawyer: “It's an extremely large case that requires a lot of work on a number of complex matters.”

Sprayregen bills $730 (£457) an hour and has notched up $91,250 (£57,225) on 125 hours of work.

As part of a restructuring plan, United Airlines is planing to spend $2.4bn (£1.5bn) in annual labour costs, with employees already accepting steep cuts to their pay packets.

Commenting on the 18 months that the case is expected to last, Sprayregen said that when the company, a longstanding client of the firm, filed for Chapter 11, a $1.2bn (£752.5m) debt facility with JPMorgan Chase, Bank One, CIT Group and Citibank was arranged. This is due to mature 19 months from the date of setting up the facility.