As Delta and Northwest press employees to take deep pay and benefit cuts, their lawyers and consultants are asking bankruptcy court judges to approve $59 million in fees and expenses for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 months of work.

Complicated bankruptcy cases commonly generate big fees for lawyers — so it might not be surprising that, by the time the two airlines exit Chapter 11, the tab could be $276 million or more. But such bills also routinely draw criticism from employees, creditors and other parties — and with Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines Inc. and Eagan, Minn.-based Northwest Airlines Corp. asking employees for wage concessions, legal fees are indeed an issue.