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Kirkland Crypto Lawyers Score $3 Million for Three Weeks’ Work

July 21, 2022, 2:47 PM

Kirkland & Ellis charged crypto broker Voyager Digital Holdings Inc. $3 million in less than a month for work on the company’s closely-watched Chapter 11 bankruptcy case.

Kirkland, the world’s largest law firm by revenue, is representing Voyager and fellow crypto company Celsius Network LLC in separate bankruptcies. The cases raise important questions about how crypto assets are handled in corporate reorganizations.

Kirkland charged Voyager a retainer of $1 million on June 17 and requested $2 million more by July 1, according to a court document filed Wednesday. The company had used just more than $2 million of Kirkland’s legal services by July 5, leaving them a cushion of about $870,000.

The firm’s highest-priced lawyer, who was not identified, is charging $1,995 an hour for work on the case, according to the court filing. A handful of well-known lawyers in Big Law charge more than $2,000.

Law firms often request retainers in bankruptcy cases and work down the fees as the case progresses. Firms must disclose their fees in the bankruptcy process.

Voyager hired Kirkland in mid-June to replace a previous bankruptcy counsel, it said in court documents. That previous law firm was Akin Gump, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Kirkland has been the busiest law firm in major Chapter 11 cases over the last few years, earning more than $200 million in pre-petition filing fees for such cases in 2020, the last busy year for bankruptcy lawyers.

The Kirkland said Voyager is in discussions regarding potential M&A transactions, but didn’t name any of those parties.

The disclosure also said some Kirkland lawyers are Voyager customers, noting those lawyers will not perform any work on the case.

To contact the reporter on this story: Roy Strom in Chicago at rstrom@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com