In court papers, lead law firm Jones Day and others that helped Detroit navigate its historic debt restructuring made a case—at the request of U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes—for why their hourly billing rates and final tab are reasonable. Officials at Jones Day, who pointed out they had already cut $17.7 million from their tab, defended the $53.7 million in fees charged for roughly 17 months’ work.
Ungaretti & Harris opened in 1974. The firm’s co-founders included veteran litigator Michael Coffield and real estate lawyer Richard Ungaretti, who had just graduated from DePaul Law School four years earlier. Coffield left the firm in the 1990s and died in 2012. Another co-founder, Alton Harris, who specializes in the financial industry, remains with the firm.
Judge Rhodes made it clear
Shortly after Detroit filed for bankruptcy in July 2013, Judge Rhodes made it clear that its lawyers shouldn’t be charging the struggling city for first-class flights, alcoholic beverages or movies in hotel rooms. His instructions are the most detailed legal-fee instructions given to a city or county in a modern municipal bankruptcy case.
In Detroit’s case, some firms said they refrained from making unnecessary or overly aggressive moves that would have run up the bill for the 680,000-resident city. Lawyers at Dentons U.S. LLP who spoke for the city’s 23,500 retirees said that they also cut their bill by $3.4 million. The firm charged $14.6 million for helping explain the claims and voting process to retirees who were unfamiliar and “largely hostile” to the bankruptcy, firm officials said in court papers.
The 204 ABA-approved law schools reported total J.D. enrollment (full-time and part-time students) of 119,775. This is a decrease of 8,935 students (6.9 percent) from 2013 and a 17.5 percent decrease from the historic high total J.D. enrollment in 2010. The 2014 total enrollment is the lowest since 1982, when there were 169 ABA-approved law schools.