It should be no surprise that the bill from Kirkland & Ellis, a New York law firm specializing in bankruptcies and restructuring, has hit $5.1 million, plus expenses of nearly $200,000, for handling the Hawker Beechcraft bankruptcy. Click here and check out document 638. It’s popular but naive to assume that’s too much, or even that it’s a further financial burden on Hawker. The firm negotiated a loan to keep the company going and to pay for the bankruptcy, so the money is there. They negotiated everything during 8,000 hours of work this year, from dealing with the pension plan to getting the approval of two-thirds of the people Hawker owes money to for the pre-China-deal bankruptcy plan. Oh, forgot. They negotiated the deal to sell the company to a Chinese businessman who heads Superior Aviation Beijing. When you read news reports, you assume that’s the final answer. It’s not. Document 638 says the future sale is sitting on a toggle switch, and can go either to China or back to a conventional bankruptcy at any second.The issue missing from the news stories to come–ones that will focus on a $5 million and growing legal bill–is the Chinese deal. What happened? Nothing, so far. Court documents went so far as to promise that the full 45 days granted by the federal bankruptcy court in New York for exclusive negotiation with Superior Aviation Beijing wouldn’t be needed. They were, and we are a month beyond. If I am proven wrong and the deal goes through tomorrow (the lawyers have worked and even filed papers on most Saturdays since the bankruptcy started last spring), I promise to leave this post up as proof that I was wrong. But instead, I think something is wrong with the deal. It’s pretty hard during a recession to find banks, even in China, that will kick in what analysts think is a ridiculous $1.79 billion to buy Hawker. I think they are balking, as I would, although my balking would start at $179 instead of that number with all those zeros. Let’s not distract ourselves by discovering that lawyers make a lot of money. They’re going to make much more than $5 million.