Early last month, the former Pennsylvania lawyer was finally disbarred with consent (meaning that he can’t defend the charges against him). Why?
Well, first, he was once charged with attempted murder. However, that charge was later dropped, and he pleaded guilty to some misdemeanor assault charges. Hell, who hasn’t that happen to them at least once or twice?
Oh, and he also swindled a portion of a settlement away from one of his clients. So, thus far, he’s batting 2 for 2.
What really accelerated Lewis’s downfall from the law? Lance David Lewis may very well be one of the first e-discovery contract attorneys to be disbarred for his malfeasance on a document review project — or, better put, off of a document review project.
In nine months, Lewis managed to rake in nearly $80,000 for work he never performed, contracting at a law firm via a staffing agency. In this case, the staffing agency was HireCounsel, and the law firm was Pepper Hamilton.
So how was he able to pull this off? The Office of Disciplinary Counsel of the Pennsylvania Bar lays this out in pretty excruciating detail….
On November 12, 2007, Lewis took a contract job working on the Eli Lilly massive e-discovery litigation matter at Pepper Hamilton. As stated above, he was working through the staffing agency HIRECounsel. Apparently Lewis wasn’t really thrilled bystaring at a computer screen and clicking a mouse all day, because the most he worked in a week while at Pepper Hamilton was 32.50 hours.
His hours did seem to greatly improve when he wasn’t working on the Eli Lilly project. You see, Lewis’s last day on the project was Tuesday, December 4, 2007 — but that didn’t stop him from billing a nice 41-hour work week that ended on December 9, 2007, giving him a decent paycheck of $1230.
Since he punched his timecard via his computer online, Lewis didn’t think it would be any big deal to put in a few more work weeks, not working. After all, he had become pretty good at getting paid for doing nothing.
He kept logging time for work he never performed until August of 2008, when he got caught. What follows was so brazen that I put it into a chart of each week where he logged hours for his “work” and the money he was paid out. As you can see, Lewis became bolder as the months continued.
|Dates Lewis Claimed To Have Worked
||Hours Logged For Work He Did Not Do
||Gross Money Paid Out|
|Dec. 31-Jan. 6||60.50||$1815|
|Jan. 28-Feb. 3||64.00||$1920|
|Feb. 18-24||69.00, plus 8.0 hours for holiday pay||$2310|
|Feb. 25-Mar. 2||69.00||$2070|
|Mar. 31-Apr. 6||73.00||$2190|
|Apr. 28-May 4||79.00||$2370|
|May 26-Jun 1||80.00 Plus 8.0 hours of holiday pay||$2640|
|Jun 30-Jul 6||82.00||$2460|
|Jul 7-13||85.00 plus another 8.0 hours of holiday pay||$3270|
|Jul 28-Aug 3||88.00||$2640|
|Aug 18-24||81.00 plus qualified for another 8.0 holiday pay||$2430 plus $240
HIRECounsel voided check before Lance could received it.
|Aug 25-29||81.00||$2430, HIRECounsel Purposefully did not issue check|
According to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, Lewis received $79,353, logging 2605.10 hours of work he never performed He also “earned” an additional 40 hours of holiday pay for the work he never did.
Also, the last two weeks he logged 81 hours, yet was not paid, because HIRECounsel was by then hot on his trail. He emailed the agency wondering why he was frozen out of the system, and asking if his checks had been sent out.
When HIRECounsel finally caught up with him, on September 3, 2008, Willa Fawar, HIRECounsel’s COO, asked him point blank when he last performed work for Pepper Hamilton.
“I cannot answer that question,” he said. “I have to speak with my lawyer.”
After later agreeing to meet with HIRECounsel that next week, he never showed, and the rest is history.
I can’t imagine what that conversation must have been like between HIRECounsel and Pepper Hamilton after discovering Lewis had been bilking them for all of that time. I understand how he could have easily slipped through the cracks on such a major project like the Eli Lilly litigation. At the same time, HIRECounsel should have been able to figure out who they were and were not employing after several months.
Oh, I forgot to mention — on September 21, 2008, two weeks after HIRECounsel exposed Lewis’s scam, he applied for unemployment compensation. I wonder how that worked out.
Gabe Acevedo is an attorney in Washington, D.C. and the owner of the e-discovery blog GabesGuide.com. He also writes on legal technology and discovery issues for Above The Law. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.