A bankruptcy judge in Manhattan brought Thelen LLP a giant step closer to a final resolution of its Chapter 7 liquidation, ruling Thursday that partners who haven't yet settled with the bankrupt firm's estate have to pay back monthly draws they received during the now-defunct firm's final year.

Thelen partners voted to dissolve the firm in November 2008, and the firm voluntarily began bankruptcy proceedings in September 2009. Since then, Thelen's bankruptcy trustee, Fox Rothschild partner Yann Geron in New York, has settled or resolved claims for back pay from 240 of the firm's 250 former partners. The current case involved the last nine partners who have fought the claims. (One other partner has agreed to mediation.) New York's Reid Collins & Tsai was tapped by Geron to handle the litigation on contingency.

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