Keeping up with the demands of tracking Dewey & LeBoeuf‘s demise have kept us off the bankruptcy beat lately, even as the firm’s collapse affects some of its own clients in Chapter 11. But while Dewey tries to liquidate without filing for bankruptcy, other Am Law 100 firms have grabbed roles representing large corporate clients opting to do their restructuring within the confines of bankruptcy court.
Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, for instance, has landed assignments advising parties involved in the recent bankruptcies of LightSquared, Hawker Beechcraft, and Bicent Holdings. Struggling BlackBerry maker Research in Motion has also reportedly retained the firm as restructuring counsel, though a Milbank spokeswoman strongly denies those reports.  (The firm is also serving as counsel to the official committee of unsecured creditors in the bankruptcy of Eastman Kodak.)
In another major restructuring matter generating billables for Am Law 100 firms, Boston-based textbook publishing powerhouse Houghton Mifflin Harcourt reached a deal last week with more than 70 percent of its creditors to slash $3.1 billion in debt through an upcoming prepackaged bankruptcy filing. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison is representing HMH on the restructuring, while Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld is advising a group of lenders. ( The Am Law Daily reported two years ago on the roles played by Paul Weiss and Akin Gump in helping HMH restructure $4 billion of its $7 billion in debt.)
Below is a roundup of some of the latest notable bankruptcy filings, along with the law firms and lawyers involved:
Billionaire Philip Falcone, the founder of New York–based hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners who made billions betting against subprime mortgages in 2007, has seen his fortunes take a turn for the worse as a result of what has proven to be his ill-fated investment in LightSquared, a Reston, Virginia–based wireless telecommunications company.
LightSquared filed for bankruptcy in New York on Monday, listing $4.48 billion in assets against $2.29 billion in liabilities. The filing came on the heels of intense negotiations between the company and creditors that failed to produce an agreement on restructuring $1.7 billion in debt. LightSquared has been the recipient of about $3 billion in investments from Falcone’s Harbinger Capital, which owns about 96 percent of the company.
LightSquared has been in trouble since February when the Federal Communications Commission effectively shut down its would-be satellite and cellular 4G LTE network after determining that the company’s technology would interfere with GPS navigation systems using frequency spectrum on similar, government-operated bandwidths. (The decision came despite LightSquared tripling its lobbying efforts in the first quarter of this year via firms such as Ballard Spahr, Dickstein Shapiro, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, K&L Gates, and Patton Boggs, according to U.S. Senate lobbying records.)
Milbank financial restructuring coleader Paul Aronzon and partner Matthew Barr are serving as lead bankruptcy counsel to LightSquared. Partners from the firm are billing between $825 and $1,140 per hour in the case, of counsel between $795 and $995 per hour, and associates between $295 and $750 per hour, according to court records. Milbank also received $2.5 million from LightSquared in the year prior to the company’s Chapter 11 filing, $1 million of which the firm collected on January 17 for advising the company on its restructuring efforts.
R. Shayne Kukulowicz, the national cochair of the insolvency and restructuring group at Toronto-based Fraser Milner Casgrain, is serving as Canadian counsel to LightSquared, along with restructuring partner Jane Dietrich and communications practice head Kirsten Embree. Fraser Milner partners are billing between $350 and $1,000 an hour, while associates are billing at rates ranging from $200 to $550, according to court filings. Those records show that LightSquared, whose general counsel is Curtis Lu, has paid Fraser Milner roughly $437,655 over the past year.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges business finance and restructuring partners Stephen Karotkin, Ronit Berkovich, and Debra Dandeneau are representing Harbinger Capital in connection with LightSquared’s bankruptcy. An ad hoc group of lenders, meanwhile, has turned to White & Case global financial restructuring and insolvency head Thomas Lauria and global commercial litigation chair Glenn Kurtz for counsel in the case.
Bloomberg reports that LightSquared, which will continue to seek regulatory approval for its wireless network amid bankruptcy, secured access to $15 million in cash on the first day of court proceedings.
Residential Capital
Residential Capital, the embattled Minneapolis-based mortgage unit of Ally Financial ( the former lending arm of General Motors), also filed a prepackaged bankruptcy plan on Monday in New York. Bloomberg reports that the deal calls for ResCap to sell most of its assets to Fortress Investment Group, while Ally prepares for the possible sale of its non-U.S. units.
Larren Nashelsky, cochair of the firmwide bankruptcy and restructuring practice at Morrison & Foerster, restructuring partner Lorenzo Marinuzzi, and global capital markets chair James Tanenbaum are advising ResCap in the Chapter 11 case, while Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle is serving as conflicts counsel. Neither firm has yet filed billing statements with the bankruptcy court.
Morrison Cohen corporate department cochair Michael Connolly and bankruptcy and restructuring chair Joseph Moldovan are advising ResCap’s independent directors. Ally is being advised by Kirkland & Ellis restructuring partners Richard Cieri, Stephen Hessler, and Ray Schrock, along with a team of lawyers from Mayer Brown led by corporate and securities partner Elizabeth Raymond. Ally’s general counsel is William Solomon, Jr.
According to a list of ResCap’s 50 largest unsecured creditors, the mortgage originator is embroiled in a thicket of subprime litigation brought by homeowners and residential mortgage-backed securities investors. Two of those investors, advised by Ropes & Gray and Houston’s Gibbs & Bruns, announced an agreement with ResCap on Monday to support the company’s reorganization plan in exchange for allowing $8.7 billion in claims by a group of investors in mortgage-backed securitization trusts, according to sibling publication The Am Law Litigation Daily.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom corporate restructuring deputy practice leader Ken Ziman, banking cohead Sarah Ward, structured finance cohead Richard Kadlick, and financial institutions partner David Ingles are advising Barclays Bank in connection with a $1.45 billion secured debtor-in-possession facility for ResCap.
Hawker Beechcraft
Earlier this month, Wichita-based Hawker Beechcraft, an airplane manufacturer owned by Goldman Sachs’s private equity arm and Toronto-based investment firm Onex, filed for bankruptcy in New York on May 3 under an agreement aimed at reducing its debt by $2.5 billion. A bankruptcy judge subsequently approved a $400 million DIP loan to Hawker that will allow the company to continue its operations while in bankruptcy.
Kirkland restructuring partners James Sprayregen, Paul Basta, Ross Kwasteniet, and Patrick Nash Jr. and litigation partners Micah Marcus and Mark McKane are serving as lead counsel to Hawker in its Chapter 11 case. Court records show that the firm, no stranger to airline bankruptcies, has received roughly $6 million in retainer payments from Hawker. Kirkland partners are billing between $670 and $1,045 per hour, of counsel between $560 and $1045, and associates at rates ranging from $370 to $750.
Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, led by insolvency and restructuring cochair Steven Reisman and partner Michael Cohen, are serving as conflicts counsel to Hawker. Partners from the firm are billing between $730 and $830 per hour, of counsel between $510 and $625, and associates at rates ranging from $300 to $590, according to court records. Hawker’s general counsel and corporate secretary is Alexander Snyder.
Milbank financial restructuring partner Gregory Bray in Los Angeles is serving as counsel to an ad hoc committee of senior note holders in the bankruptcy of Hawker, which has vowed to remain a stand-alone company.
Northern Mariana Islands Retirement Fund
In what appears to be the first bankruptcy filing by a public pension fund in the United States, the Northern Mariana Islands Retirement Fund (NMIRF) sought Chapter 11 protection in Honolulu on April 17. NMI claims that the ongoing global economic crisis, coupled with generous benefits payments and inadequate contributions, are responsible for the fund’s insolvency, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
Brown Rudnick restructuring partners Jeremy Coffey and Steven Pohl in Boston are serving as lead bankruptcy counsel to NMIRF. Court filings by Brown Rudnick show that the debtor first approached the firm about six months prior to its bankruptcy filing, a period during which the firm provided free legal counsel to NMIRF up until the time it was officially engaged in early April. (Court filings reveal that Brown Rudnick puts the price tag for its unbilled time at $187,000.)
Court filings show that Brown Rudnick has agreed to have its lawyers bill NMI at a blended hourly rate of $475. The firm has capped the debtor’s monthly payments on fees and expenses at $125,000, while also agreeing to a fee cap of $750,000, with excess payments subject to the consent of NMIRF and the court’s discretion, according to court records. Brown Rudnick has received an advance retainer of $250,000.
Braddock Huesman, a solo practitioner based in the Northern Marianas capital of Saipan, is serving as special and local counsel to NMIRF. Huesman has represented NMIRF’s board of trustees since May 2010, according to court records, and has handled litigation for the fund. Huesman’s hourly billing rate is $150 and his firm has been paid a $20,000 retainer for its services in the Chapter 11 case, according to court records.
The Commonwealth Ports Authority, represented by Saipan attorney Robert Torres, has sought to intervene in NMI’s bankruptcy case. The Office of the Public Auditor in the Marianas is looking into how the NMIRF secured the services of its lawyers and other outside consultants, according to leading local newspaper Marianas Variety.
Betsey Johnson
The clothing retailer founded in 1978 by fashion designer Betsey Johnson filed for bankruptcy in Manhattan on April 26 and announced plans to close its 63 stores and lay off its 350 employees. The New York–based company, which is now owned by private equity firm Castanea Partners, listed $21.3 million in assets against liabilities of $15.4 million.
Goulston & Storrs bankruptcy and restructuring head James Wallack and partners Gregory Kaden and Douglas Rosner in Boston are advising the company in the Chapter 11 case. The firm was paid approximately $827,262.14 by the debtor in the year prior to the bankruptcy filing—about $341,000 of which was specifically related to preparing that filing,  according to court records. Goulston & Storrs has agreed to cap its hourly rates in the case at $650.
Frank Oswald of New York bankruptcy boutique Togut, Segal & Segal is serving as cocounsel and conflicts counsel to the debtor. A declaration by Oswald filed with the bankruptcy court states that the firm has been paid a $75,000 retainer for its services in the case.
Bicent Holdings
Lafayette, Colorado–based electric power producer Bicent Holdings and 12 affiliates filed for bankruptcy in Delaware on April 23. Owned by private equity firm Natural Gas Partners, Bicent has obtained a $57 million debtor-in-possession loan from Barclays Bank as part of a prepackaged plan to refinance $500 million in debt.
Pauline Morgan, chair of the corporate restructuring practice at Delaware’s Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, is serving as general bankruptcy counsel to Bicent, along with partner Joel Waite. Young Conaway has been paid a $150,000 retainer for its services in the Chapter 11 case, according to court filings submitted by the firm. Both Morgan and Waite are billing $700 an hour.
Bicent has retained Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison team headed by New York–based bankruptcy partner Brian Hermann as special corporate and transactions counsel. Court filings show that the firm’s partners are billing Bicent between $830 to $1,120 per hour, $760 to $795 for counsel, and $425 to $720 for associates. Paul Weiss received more than $2.3 million from Bicent in the year prior to the bankruptcy filing, according to court records.
Milbank litigation and arbitration partner Sander Bak is serving as counsel to Barclays in the Chapter 11 case.
Connexion Technologies
Cary, North Carolina–based telecommunications company Connexion also filed for bankruptcy in Delaware April 28, listing fewer than $500,000 in assets against debts of between $100 million and $500 million. Connexion, which is also known as Capitol Infrastructure, announced plans to sell itself after a contract dispute with DirecTV forced the cash-strapped company into bankruptcy, Bloomberg reports.
Pepper Hamilton corporate restructuring cochair David Stratton, partner David Fournier, and of counsel James Carignan are advising Connexion in connection with the Chapter 11 case. Court records show that the firm has received prepetition retainers from the debtor totaling nearly $150,000. Pepper Hamilton partners and counsel are billing between $360 and $860 per hour, while associates are at rates ranging from $210 to $485.
James Angell, a bankruptcy partner with Raleigh-based Howard, Stallings, From & Hutson, is serving as local counsel to the debtor. The firm has received $38,000 in prepetition retainers for its services, according to court filings, which also show that a team of lawyers from Raleigh’s Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton lead by name partner Larry Robbins is serving as special counsel to Connexion.
Court records show that Wyrick Robbins partners and counsel are billing between $250 and $480 an hour for their services, while associates are billing between $160 and $340. The firm has received $416,184 from the debtor in the year prior to its bankruptcy filing.

A list of Connexion’s 30 largest unsecured creditors shows that in addition to owing DirecTV more than $2.4 million, the company owes money to three law firms:  Raleigh’s Smith, Anderson, Blount, Dorsett, Mitchell & Jernigan ($165,740), Wyrick Robbins ($137,066), and Greenberg Traurig ($103,492). 


An ongoing copyright dispute with EMI Group, the world’s fourth-largest music company, and its subsidiary Capitol Records has MP3tunes singing a song of insolvency. The San Diego–based company filed for Chapter 7 in America’s Finest City on April 27, listing only $7,800 in assets against $2.1 million in liabilities.

Foley & Lardner bankruptcy partner Christopher Celentino in San Diego is representing MP3tunes as it liquidates its assets in bankruptcy. The firm has received $25,000 for its efforts in the case, according to court records.

Gerald Davis, a solo practitioner in San Diego, is serving as Chapter 7 trustee for MP3tunes. He has retained Richard Norton, Ann Moore, and William Adams, name partners at San Diego’s Norton Moore & Adams, as his general counsel.

According to a list of MP3tunes’ largest unsecured creditors, the company’s largest liability is a $1.4 million debt to Duane Morris, which has been representing the debtor and its founder, digital music entrepreneur Michael Robertson, in the copyright suit filed by EMI and Capitol Records in federal court in Manhattan. Jenner & Block and Pryor Cashman are advising the plaintiffs in the litigation, which is still pending.

Prince Sports

Bordentown, New Jersey–based tennis racket maker Prince Sports filed for bankruptcy on May 1 in Delaware, listing debts and assets between $50 million and $100 million. The company, owned since 2007 by Providence-based, middle-market private equity firm Nautic Partners, cited declining demand for its products and increased competition as the primary reasons for descent into Chapter 11.

Laura Davis Jones, a name partner at national bankruptcy boutique Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones, and partners David Bertenthal, James O’Neill, and Joshua Fried are advising Prince Sports. Court records show the firm has received $454,184 from Prince Sports in the year prior to its Chapter 11 filing.

Patton Boggs bankruptcy and restructuring chair Michael Richman and partner Mark Salzberg are representing an official committee of Prince Sports’s unsecured creditors, along with business law group chair Jeffrey Wisler and IP partner Zhun Lu of Delaware’s Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz.