Law firms have no property interest in hourly billed client matters, the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled Thursday, undercutting the “unfinished business” claims of bankrupt Am Law 100 firm Howrey.

While Howrey closed its doors in 2011, the unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel has major implications for law firms that have picked up groups of lawyers—and their clients—when other law firms failed or dissolved.

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