SAN FRANCISCO — Now that Bank of America and Citibank have agreed to pay $20 million to the estate of Heller Ehrman and waive further claims, the defunct firm’s former shareholders can breathe easier. Though they say they never lost much sleep over the possibility that the banks would come after them as individuals, shareholders were worried enough to negotiate a $6 million defense fund with Heller’s estate in case the dispute with the banks turned uglier.

“When well-financed entities are out a lot of money, there’s always the possibility they’ll get super-creative, and that created some possibility for litigation against individual shareholders,” said former shareholder Peter Benvenutti, a member of the firm’s dissolution committee. “Lawyers know that all it takes to file a lawsuit is a lawyer and a filing fee.”

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