Caesars Entertainment Operating Corp. received a bankruptcy court’s approval in January to end a Chapter 11 case that began in January 2015.
But the proceedings continue to make flush a trio of high-powered Am Law 100 firms in Kirkland & Ellis, Jones Day and Proskauer Rose.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge A. Benjamin Goldgar in Chicago approved another round of payouts last week in a case that has shaved $10 billion in debt from the gaming giant’s balance sheet. The payments, for work dating from October through the closing of the bankruptcy on Jan. 17, will push Kirkland’s payout to more than $70 million for representing Caesars. Kirkland will receive $7.1 million for three-and-a-half months’ work on behalf of the debtor.
Proskauer, which represented a group of unsecured creditors in the case, will be paid about $2.2 million for its work during that timeframe, bringing its total to around $29 million. And Jones Day, which went to bat for a group of second-lien junior bondholders, will make about $1.5 million in the sixth payout of legal fees since the case began more than two years ago, bringing the Cleveland-founded firm’s total payout to just north of $25 million, according to bankruptcy court filings.
For those three firms, there is likely to be at least one more payment authorized by the court, but the legal fees have largely tapered off from earlier in Caesars’ Chapter 11 proceedings.
For a fourth firm, Winston & Strawn, the work and payments on the matter have already finished. Winston & Strawn served as counsel for a court-appointed examiner in the case, bagging nearly $32 million for its work on the matter.
Proskauer’s heaviest billing period came between February and March 2015, when the firm made $6.6 million. Jones Day made $13 million from June to September of last year, by far its largest quarterly billings in the case. Kirkland, as a matter of comparison, made $12.8 million for its work between June and September 2016, according to court documents.
While the fees for the firms may be slowing, there are still individual lawyers devoting tremendous amounts of time to the matter.
The largest individual biller for the latest Kirkland time period was Joseph Graham, a bankruptcy associate from Chicago who graduated from the University of Notre Dame Law School in 2011. Graham billed $627,491 for 693.8 hours of work during the 109-day billing period. That equates to billing, on average, about 6.4 hours a day, or 26 percent of the time in a 24-hour period.