A Dispute Over Legal Bills Turns Personal Down Under

 Posted by at 12:25 pm  Overbilling  Comments Off on A Dispute Over Legal Bills Turns Personal Down Under
Apr 252012
 

A recent article in The Australian (free version here) tells the tale of attorney Stephen Firth.  Firth, a personal injury lawyer in Australia, has crusaded against over-charging by his colleagues.  Now however, the tables have turned as Firth himself is the subject of multiple claims alleging overcharging and misleading his clients.

In one case, Mr. Firth faces allegations of charging $160,000 when only $30,000 should have been billed. In another case, it is alleged that Mr. Firth had a 25% success contingency fee, which is illegal under Australian law under the Legal Profession Act.  In yet another claim, Mr. Firth was accused of unconscionable conduct; Mr. Firth was paid $78,000 under a lump sum contract when a court-ordered itemized bill came to just $27,000. Continue reading »

MF Global’s Insurance Co. Ordered to Pay Legal Fees of its Employees

 Posted by at 10:29 am  Bankruptcy  Comments Off on MF Global’s Insurance Co. Ordered to Pay Legal Fees of its Employees
Apr 242012
 

As reported in the New York Times, Judge Martin Glenn of the United States Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan held that MF Global’s insurance company will be required to pay legal fees for the firm’s employees as they defend themselves against accusations of wrongdoing after $1.6 Billion of customer money went missing when the firm went bankrupt last Fall.

MF Global employees have already spent $8.3 Million on legal fees, and Judge Glenn has authorized them to spend an additional $21.7 Million on the insurance company’s tab. This initial cap may also be increased as litigation costs rise and new cases are brought against the employees. Continue reading »

The Legal Cost of Corruption Clean-Up

 Posted by at 11:17 am  BigLaw  Comments Off on The Legal Cost of Corruption Clean-Up
Apr 202012
 

An article in the Los Angeles Times this week investigated the enormous amount of legal fees that cities in California have racked up over the past several years while dealing with corruption scandals.  Long after the officials are dishonorably discharged from their positions (and often indicted), many cities are still facing sky-high legal bills in the wake of municipal corruption – a tab that tax payers are rightfully unhappy about. Perhaps surprisingly, most of the legal fees aren’t paid to cover the representation of the disgraced city official (generally, they have to pay for their own attorneys), but for “defending the city from related lawsuits or complying with requests from investigating agencies.”  Continue reading »

The Rich [Lawyers] Get Richer

 Posted by at 10:45 am  BigLaw  Comments Off on The Rich [Lawyers] Get Richer
Apr 182012
 

The disparity in legal fees charged by the highest-billing lawyers and those at the bottom is growing larger, reports Thomson Reuters.  The results from a 4 year study spanning 2007-2011 conducted by TyMetrix Legal Analytics and Corporate Executive Board gathering data from 4,000 law firms, including 120,000 individual attorneys, were released on Monday.  The finding of an average increase in billing rates of 4% from 2009 to 2011 is certainly unsettling; however other study results are arguably far more alarming. Continue reading »

In the Wake of the Recession, Alternative Fee Agreements Seem Here to Stay

 Posted by at 11:05 am  Alternative Fee Arrangements  Comments Off on In the Wake of the Recession, Alternative Fee Agreements Seem Here to Stay
Apr 122012
 

The Wall Street Journal reported this weekend that law firms have become more receptive to flat fees and other alternative billing arrangements.

During the economic downturn, corporate clients were able to push back and demand breaks from typical hourly billing. However, even as the economy shows signs of recovering, alternative-fee agreements continue to rise. According to a Citi Private Bank survey of managing partners from 40 U.S. firms, the percentage of revenue from alternative-billing arrangements is expected to hit 13.4% this year, nearly double what it was in 2008. Continue reading »

Iowa Attorney Suspended Over $2,500 Nonrefundable Retainer Agreement

 Posted by at 11:20 am  Court Decisions, Overbilling  Comments Off on Iowa Attorney Suspended Over $2,500 Nonrefundable Retainer Agreement
Apr 112012
 

According to the ABA Journal, the Iowa Supreme Court has suspended the law license of Bill Vilmont for 30 days after ruling late last week that his nonrefundable retainer agreement was a violation of ethical conduct under Iowa case law and Iowa Ct. R. 45.9(2) (see also ABA Model R. Prof. Conduct 1.5(a)). Vilmont had been hired in January of 2010 to represent a client on a state charge of enticement of a minor, and included in the agreement a retainer of $2,500 to be placed in trust, as well as a minimum fee of $2,500.   Essentially, the retainer became nonrefundable as a minimum fee in the litigation, and as such, constituted an unethical nonrefundable advance-fee contract. Continue reading »

A Cautionary Tale from an Advice Columnist’s Ill-Advised Lawsuit

 Posted by at 9:51 am  Overbilling  Comments Off on A Cautionary Tale from an Advice Columnist’s Ill-Advised Lawsuit
Apr 102012
 

The Vancouver Sun detailed the legal struggles of a local celebrity this past Friday.

In a civil suit over a soured television deal,  Rhona Raskin spent almost $150,000 in fees over the course of 5 years—without ever making it to trial on the merits of her case.

Although she was told the suit only had a 50-50 chance of success, Ms. Raskin wasn’t clear of what the suit would cost her. After losing a jurisdictional challenge (at which point the bill was $35,000), her lawyer recommended appealing, which would only cost $10,000. Continue reading »

Attorney Disciplined for Egregious Sham Billing: “Law Was Not His Passion”

 Posted by at 1:06 pm  Overbilling  Comments Off on Attorney Disciplined for Egregious Sham Billing: “Law Was Not His Passion”
Apr 062012
 

A three-member panel of Pennsylvania’s Disciplinary Board found attorney Matthew Henry guilty of violating seven rules of Professional Conduct, as well as engaging in the practice of law without a license.  The panel cited in detail five instances where Henry continued to bill clients for matters on which he was doing little to no work at all, reports the Am Law Daily.  In addition, Henry neglected to renew his law license in 2009 and continued to practice law for his firm, Cozen O’Connor, nonetheless. Continue reading »

Using Legal Fees as a Sword in Litigation?

 Posted by at 2:20 pm  Court Decisions, Overbilling  Comments Off on Using Legal Fees as a Sword in Litigation?
Apr 042012
 

A lawsuit challenging the validity of a controversial immigration ordinance may cost the city of Fremont, Nebraska upwards of $700,000 in plaintiffs’ legal fees, the Lincoln Journal Star reported last week.

Voters passed the ordinance into law in an effort to “crackdown on employers who hire people not lawfully present in the United States and the landlords who rent to them.” Affected parties, including landlords and tenants, joined with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Defense and Legal Education Fund, who then filed suit to challenge the ordinance in Federal Court. Continue reading »

Requested Legal Fees Slashed by Nearly 50% Following Maine Congressional Redistricting Lawsuit

 Posted by at 10:10 am  Court Decisions, Overbilling  Comments Off on Requested Legal Fees Slashed by Nearly 50% Following Maine Congressional Redistricting Lawsuit
Apr 032012
 

Following a lawsuit that resulted in the redrawing of Maine’s Congressional districts, a three-judge federal panel ruled that the requested legal fees from the action be slashed by 53%, reports the Am Law Daily.  The attorneys affected by the ruling include Timothy Woodcock of Eaton Peabody, and four Baker and Hostetler attorneys including election law counsel Mark Braden, who requested about $150,000 in fees following their success in the litigation representing the Plaintiff’s interest.  Citing overstaffing and redundant work, the award of attorney’s fees was ultimately reduced to $70,400. Continue reading »