PODCAST: Anton “Tony” Valukas on the demise of Lehman Brothers

September 27, 2023

*Editor’s Note: Re-Examination is a collaboration between M Coffey and Infinite Global that explores legal history through conversations with the lawyers who shaped it. Co-hosted by Andrew Longstreth, head writer at Infinite Global, and Murray Coffey, founder of M Coffey, this podcast series draws out lessons from some of the most effective storytellers in the law.

Launched on the 15th anniversary of Lehman Brothers’ collapse, the inaugural episode of Re-Examination welcomes senior Jenner & Block partner Anton “Tony” Valukas. Tony walks us through his remarkable experience as the court-appointed examiner responsible for investigating one of the most complex and consequential financial collapses in history: the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers.

In an earthquake felt around the world, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy on September 15, 2008, triggering a global financial crisis. With record revenues of nearly $60 billion reported less than eight months prior, the speed of Lehman’s downfall was as stunning as it was consequential.

Tony Valukas and his team at Jenner & Block were tasked with crafting a comprehensive account of Lehman’s failure. The result was the nine-volume, 2,200-page Valukas Report, which became the definitive guide to understanding what led to Lehman’s collapse.

In this episode, Tony joins Andrew and Murray to discuss his systematic approach to compiling the Valukas Report. Commended for its thorough fact-finding and compelling narrative structure, the report set a new precedent for investigating corporate failure.

The episode covers:

  • The domino effect that Lehman’s bankruptcy had on the global economy and its lasting implications.
  • The responsibility Valukas and his team faced in delivering an accurate, illuminating report and how they managed the pressure.
  • Tony’s concept of the “essential detail,” a storytelling technique employed to encapsulate complex issues in an easily understandable manner.
  • The lasting impact and legacy of the Valukas Report as a model for future corporate investigations.

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