So, a $40 million legal bill might not feel like a bargain to a bankrupt company, but that's exactly what Delta Air Lines got when it chose Marshall Huebner, a partner at Davis Polk Wardwell, to lead it through bankruptcy. Delta's reorganization plan was approved by a U.S. bankruptcy judge in Manhattan yesterday after a 19-month Chapter 11 process. At an expected $40 million, Davis Polk's bill will come in at less than half the $100 million that Kirkland & Ellis charged for United's 38-month bankruptcy. Some of the difference might be explained by the fact that United is a larger airline with multiple unions it had to
negotiate with. Delta has just one. But, Huebner also avoided a lot of the expensive and time-consuming litigation that United's team faced by negotiating more out-of-court agreements with creditors. Added bonuses: Delta successfully fended off a hostile takeover offer by U.S. Airways, averted a major strike, and comes out of bankruptcy with a rosy outlook from industry analysts.