Chrysler legal bill for bankruptcy: $12.7 million

DETROIT Wed Jun 24, 2009 7:49pm EDT

DETROIT (Reuters) - Chrysler's dash through bankruptcy has cost $12.7 million in legal costs in its first month, according to a court filing.

Jones Day, the New York law firm that represents Chrysler in its bankruptcy case, submitted a bill for $12.4 million in fees and just over $256,00 in expenses.

The bill covers the period from April 30, when Chrysler filed for Chapter 11 protection, to May 31 -- just 10 days before Chrysler completed a deal that saw its best assets sold to a new company controlled by Fiat SpA. FIA.MI

The court filing details the vast legal effort that began with Chrysler's bankruptcy filing and suggests the scale of the potential bill for the more complicated General Motors Corp GMGMQ.PK bankruptcy now underway.

Jones Day had 72 partners led by Corinne Ball, 55, working on the Chrysler bankruptcy case in its first month, according to the firm's bill. Another 193 lawyers with the firm were also involved in the case during the month.

Ball, the lead bankruptcy attorney, averaged 15-hour workdays every day during the month, including weekends. That amounted to a bill for $401,310 for her services at $900 per hour.

On average, the Jones Day lawyers billed for their work at $476.96 per hour, while paralegals and support staff billed at $224.23 per hour, according to the filing.

Taken together, the firm's lawyers billed for 27,209 hours of services -- equivalent to more than three years -- during the hectic first month of Chrysler's bankruptcy filing.

The automaker's reorganization, which was brokered by the Obama administration's autos task force, faced legal challenges from creditors that went all the way to the Supreme Court.

On June 10, the Supreme Court cleared the way for Chrysler's sale to a group led by Fiat SpA FIA.MI when it opted not to hear a challenge on behalf of Indiana state pension funds.

The first-month legal bill from Jones Day, which was filed on Monday, also includes charges for $52,628.32 to copy documents, $62,40.20 for hotels and $5,878.76 on food and beverages. Taxi charges added another $4,247.42 to the total.

Objections to the billing are due to be submitted by July 10. If no objections are filed, Chrysler is due to pay the law firm $10.2 million of the amount owed.

The case is in re Chrysler LLC, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No. 09-50002.

(Reporting by Kevin Krolicki; editing by Andre Grenon)

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