April 18, 2012 5:54 PM
Tallying Up the TARP-Related Legal Fees Racked up by Am Law Firms
Posted by Brian Baxter
The U.S. Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) may have expired, but some of the initiatives that grew out of that massive federal effort to bail out ailing banks and cope with other financial crisis fallout live onâ€”and not always in a positive way.
Consider the Hardest Hit Fund, which was meant to help struggling homeowners. Already under fire in the press, the $7.6 billion fund took another hit last week when it emerged as the main focus of a scathing report issued by Christy Romero, TARP’s new inspector general.
Romero joined the agency’s inspector general’s office in 2009 from the SEC, where she served as counsel to chairs Mary Schapiro and Christopher Cox (now at Bingham McCutchen). A litigator specializing in financial restructuring, she previously worked at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld, Jenner Block, and Snell Wilmer, and hasn’t been shy about criticizing her former colleagues in the private sector.
In a 2011 audit report issued while she was still serving as TARP’s acting inspector general, Romero chastised Bingham, Cadwalader, Wickersham Taft, Locke Lord, and Simpson Thacher Bartlett for what she said were their sometimes vague billing practices and the Treasury Department for failing to adequately monitor those bills.
While the 76-page document Romero put out last week did not single out specific firms, it did serve as a reminder that plenty of Am Law 100 and Second Hundred firms have reaped the benefits of taking on TARP assignments. Cadwalader, for instance, has collected nearly $24 million in fees for work connected to the program; Simpson Thacher has billed for more than $10 million; and Hughes Hubbard Reed has taken in just over $5 million.
Romero’s latest report also comes as The Am Law Daily uses the presidential election season as an occasion to examine which law firms have gained the most from high-profile federal government programs over the past four years. Last week we looked at the firmsâ€”such as Clifford Chance, Debevoise Plimpton, and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton Garrisonâ€”that have earned substantial fees under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
As for TARPâ€”a program established by the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 in the waning days of the George W. Bush’s second presidential termâ€”about 20 firms have legal advisory contracts tied to the program, according to a March report filed by Treasury to Congress. Sibling publication The American Lawyer reported two years ago on the total value of some of those TARP contracts, which are capped at $100 million. (The Am Law Daily has reported separately on Treasury’s decision to hire 13 firms to help run programsâ€”like the Hardest Hit initiativeâ€”that ran past TARP’s expiration date.)
Several Am Law 100 or Second Hundred firms have amassed significant legal tabs over the past four years. Treasury has a breakdown on those firms and the “obligated value” of their TARP contracts, which extend for various time periods between 2008 and 2015, through the procurement section of its FinancialStability.gov Web site.
Copies of contractsâ€”which are mostly boilerplate agreements for legal advice on investments, asset-backed security deals, debt transactions, mortgage loan modifications, other mortgage-related legal issues, or restructuring mattersâ€”are also included below.
Paul Weiss â€” $4,799,741 â€” click here for the firm’s legal services contract from August 2010 through August 2015.
SNR Denton â€” $4,639,402.93 â€” click here, here, here, and here for the firm’s legal services contracts between November 2008 and March 2010, which include work done by Thacher Proffitt Wood, the bulk of which joined SNR Denton in December 2008. (SNR Denton was known as Sonnenschein Nath Rosenthal prior to its May 2010 merger with British firm Denton Wilde Sapte.)
Bingham â€” $298,672.75 â€” click here and here for the firm’s legal services contracts between March 2009 and December 2010, including pacts for work done by McKee Nelson, which Bingham acquired in 2009.
Locke Lord â€” $272,243 â€” click here for the firm’s contract for legal services from February 2009 to August 2009.
Debevoise â€” $159,175 â€” click here for the firm’s legal services contract between March 2009 and January 2011.
Orrick, Herrington Sutcliffe, Perkins Coie, and Seyfarth Shaw are also listed in the TARP procurement database, but none of those firms have yet received payments from the government under their contracts, according to Treasury Department records.
Firms that received contracts from both the Recovery Act and TARP programs were Debevoise, Haynes and Boone, and Paul Weiss, which have been paid $2,128,415, $346,680, and $6,081,399, respectively, for their work over the past four years.
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