Bankruptcy Lawyers in Demand

Article excerpt

Byline: Abbas Khan Medill News Service

Mushrooming corporate bankruptcies have triggered massive employee layoffs and wrecked investors' portfolios - and led to higher attorney fees.

Some in-demand bankruptcy lawyers now charge more than $700 an hour.

In 2002, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois, which is handling such large cases such as UAL Corp. and Kmart Corp., approved bills for $52.7 million in professional fees - up 64 percent from the $32.1 million awarded in 2001 and more than double the $24.4 million awarded in 2000, according to documents provided by the court clerk's office.

The vast majority of professional fees are attorney bills, and the figures include all types of bankruptcies, business and individual.

In Kmart's case, the court approved $22 million in professional fees for just the first three months, plus another $2.6 million in expenses. The money was divided among lawyers, accountants and consultants.

The fee growth is in line with the increase in filings under Chapter 11. …