Elon Musk likely faces a 'staggering' legal bill as high as $100 million after his failed attempt to back out of buying Twitter

Elon Musk likely faces a 'staggering' legal bill as high as $100 million after his failed attempt to back out of buying Twitter
Elon Musk on March 9.Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
  • Elon Musk could be facing up to $100 million in personal legal fees after renewing his offer to buy Twitter.
  • Both Twitter and Musk employed over 50 lawyers in the months leading up to the trial.

The all-in cost for Elon Musk from his months-long attempt to get out of a deal to buy Twitter is estimated to be as much as $100 million — and that's just for his side of the case.

The question of just how much of a legal bill Musk faces was renewed when Musk pulled an abrupt U-turn this week, returning to his original proposal to acquire Twitter for the same amount he agreed on back in April.

This came after more than three months of dozens of lawyers at two firms going back and forth constantly, combined with experts, at least three data analysis firms, and various other untold costs working to support the billionaire's arguments that he could walk away from the agreement entirely.

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Robert Miller, a lawyer, law professor and expert on mergers and acquisitions in Delaware Court of Chancery, said the total cost to Musk alone is likely $100 million.

"Probably that much again on Twitter's side," Miller added. "And of course, Musk effectively pays Twitter's costs, too" if he becomes the company's new owner.


That puts his total bill for the case at a likely — and eye-watering — $200 million.

A lot of the cost, of course, is going straight to the lawyers and major firms Musk and Twitter employed. Over the course of the last four months, both sides altogether brought in over 50 lawyers from some of the most expensive firms in the country, Bloomberg reported. Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom helped represent Musk. Meanwhile, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP were set to assist Twitter in court. Each side also employed multiple additional firms to send out a slurry of hundreds of subpoenas in the months leading up to the trial.

Litigators, merger and acquisition lawyers, and senior partners at such notable firms can make up to $2,500 an hour, according to Anat Alon-Beck, a business law professor at Case Western Reserve University. She put the estimate for Musk's costs for just lawyers at around $30 million. Transperfect CEO Phil Shawe, who has litigated cases for his company in Delaware Court of Chancery, said Musk could easily be shelling out $7 million to $10 million per month in legal fees and potentially even more in the months closer to the trial.

"It really depends on the numbers of lawyers involved in the case — and how much Musk bugs them," Alon-Beck noted. All in, she said the cost to Musk could be as much as $100 million, saying "I can't imagine it would be more than that, unless he's bugging them 24/7."

Tom Sharbaugh, a law professor at Penn State and the former managing partner of operations at Morgan Lewis, a large law firm, said what lawyers were paid for the case probably comes to "staggering amounts." He added that hourly billing is unlikely to be how Musk and Twitter were solely charged in this case.


"The really huge deals like this, people don't bill by the hour," Sharbaugh said.

But, for the richest man in the world the mountain of fees could be a drop in the hat. With Musk's massive personal wealth of more than $220 billion, based largely on his holdings of Tesla stock, even $200 million in costs related to the case is a price tag he can deal with — his own wealth can fluctuate by much more than that in a single day on Wall Street.

"Even spending this much on legal expenses, it's so tiny to him," Miller said, "it's almost like he's litigating for free."

Are you legal professional involved in Musk vs. Twitter or someone with insight to share? Contact Kali Hays at khays@insider.com or on Signal at 949-280-0267. Contact Grace Kay at gkay@insider.com. Reach out using a non-work device.