• By
  • Ashby Jones

Borders Group, the company behind Borders Bookstore, at long last filed for Chapter 11 protection on Wednesday morning in federal bankruptcy court in Manhattan. Click here for the WSJ story.

It’s sad news, for those who still like the increasingly old-school experience of browsing through a bookstore with your feet — not just with a computer mouse. The company plans to close about 30%, or roughly 200, stores over the next few weeks.

To run the show, Borders has decided not to go with a huge firm steeped in debtor-side bankruptcy work, like a Kirkland or a Weil Gotshal, but instead with Kasowitz Benson’s David Friedman, perhaps best known for his creditor-side work. Friedman has repped large groups of creditors or bondholders in several huge bankruptcies, including Enron, Adelphia and Calpine.

So how did Friedman land the gig?

The American Lawyer reported late last month that ties between Marc Kasowitz and Borders CEO Bennett LeBow may have sealed the deal.

LeBow is also chairman of the board at the Vector Group, the holding company for Liggett Group, which owns several tobacco brands.

The article also reported (through an earlier New York Law Journal story), that Kasowitz’s relationship to Liggett extends back to 1996, three years after Kasowitz left Mayer Brown to set up the firm that now bears his name. Liggett continues to be one of the firm’s larger clients.

In an earlier story, the American Lawyer reported that Borders had as early as 2009 lined up Jones Day to handle the its restructuring efforts. But in May of last year, LeBow invested an additional $25 million in the company, which made him the largest shareholder, and allowed him to become the company’s CEO and chairman.

In a statement made alongside the bankruptcy filing, Borders Group president Mike Edwards said: “It has become increasingly clear that in light of the environment of curtailed customer spending… and the company’s lack of liquidity, Borders Group does not have the capital resources it needs to be a viable competitor.”

The Chapter 11 filing will allow Borders to access new capital and reorganize its operations, Edwards said.

It recently lined up a $505 million “debtor in possession” loan from GE Capital to help fund its restructuring.