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The nationally renowned attorney who led United Airlines through its bankruptcy has announced plans to leave his Chicago-based law firm to join Goldman Sachs Group Inc. James Sprayregen, 46, said Tuesday he is leaving Kirkland & Ellis to become a managing director in the Goldman Sachs investment banking division starting in early July. “This is a chance to use the different skills I’ve developed in a different way,” he said. Sprayregen has been with Kirkland & Ellis since 1990 and has spearheaded several high-profile bankruptcies, including UAL Corp., parent of United Airlines, Conseco Inc. and Trans World Airlines. He and his division of 100 attorneys are considered a major asset at the firm. Court documents filed in March show Sprayregen performed $3.45 million worth of services in the United case alone. He charged the Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based airline for 4,419 hours in the case, billing at a top rate of $850 an hour. UAL emerged from its three-year Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring on Feb. 1. “No mistake about it, it’s a big blow to Kirkland,” said Keith Shapiro, a bankruptcy attorney at Chicago-based Greenberg Traurig LLP. “He was one of its top three or four rainmakers.” Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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