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Analysis: Failing Companies Gravitating to Richmond Bankruptcy Court - ABI

While Toys “R” Us world headquarters are in Wayne, N.J., the struggling retailer chose not to file for bankruptcy in nearby Newark, N.J. Instead, the toy company followed an increasing number of corporations — from Gymboree to a major coal company to a Pennsylvania fracking company — that are choosing to file for bankruptcy in Richmond, Va., according to a New York Times analysis. In recent years, Richmond has become the destination wedding spot for failed companies. The bankruptcy court there offers several features attractive to the executives, bankers and lawyers trying to get an edge in the proceedings. First, Richmond’s bankruptcy court offers a so-called rocket docket that moves cases along swiftly. Second, the legal record in that court district includes precedents favorable to companies, like making it easier to walk away from union contracts. But perhaps one of the biggest draws, according to bankruptcy lawyers and academics, is the hefty rates lawyers are able to charge there. The New York law firm representing Toys “R” Us, Kirkland & Ellis, told the judge that its lawyers were charging as much as $1,745 an hour. That is 25 percent more than the average highest rate in 10 of the largest bankruptcies this year, according an analysis by the New York Times.

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