Overbilling

* With yesterday’s decision from Pennsylvania, the game is now tied for Obamacare at the federal district court level. Come on, SCOTUS, just grant someone certiorari already. [Bloomberg]

* Keep this in mind if you’re applying to law school this year: if you’re white, it ain’t aight. Who knew that there could be “anti-white bias” in a place where everyone’s white, like Wisconsin? [National Law Journal]

* Mark McCombs, the ex-Greenberg Traurig partner who overbilled for prestige, was sentenced to six years. Not a good way to thank your town for naming a street after you. [Am Law Daily]

* An Indian restaurant is accused of forcing Indian customers to give 18% tips. Here’s a tip: don’t punch customers in the face, and maybe they’ll give you a tip on their own. [New York Daily News]

* No soup (or supplements) for you! Curtis Allgier, a Utah prisoner awaiting his murder trial, wants seconds during dinner so he can get back to his fighting killing weight. [Boston Globe]

I’m an idiot. I really am.

When I was in private practice, clients said that they instituted e-billing for reasons of efficiency: “We can process bills and pay you faster if you submit bills electronically. E-billing speeds the process for both of us.”

I knew that bills that we submitted electronically underwent some kind of review. It always felt as though it was review by chimpanzee, as clients seemingly whacked hours randomly, leaving us with the hard choice whether to remain silent or quibble about a few bucks here and a few bucks there. But fundamentally I accepted the basic proposition that e-billing improved efficiency.

Now I know better….

(Actually, I don’t really know much better. I added a provocative sentence followed by an ellipsis so that Lat would know precisely where to put the break for the “continue reading” icon when he loads this post into the ATL blogging software.)

Where was I?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: The Truth Behind E-Billing”

Egad! The General Counsel just announced that your target for next year will be to handle 20 percent of all outside legal spend on an alternative fee basis! What do you do?

You can’t just do flat fee agreements! What happens if you agree to pay too much, and you’ve given away your client’s money? And success-based fees are a great idea, but they’re impossible to calculate! How does anyone know at the start of a piece of (non-routine) litigation what the case is worth? Since you don’t know the value of the matter, you can’t set the target from which you’ll judge success.

What’s an in-house lawyer to do?

Calm down. Here’s a way to ease into alternative fee agreements that will put neither you nor your outside firms at risk, will educate you slowly over time, and will meet your internal objectives….

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Glenn C. Lewis: he's a billable-hour machine.

A few days ago, the Washington Post reported on the legal misadventures of prominent D.C. attorney Glenn Lewis (no relation to the Canadian R&B singer, as far as we know). According to the Post, “Glenn C. Lewis is an acknowledged titan of the D.C. area divorce bar, a former president of the Virginia Bar Association who boasts that he is the most expensive lawyer in the region: $850 an hour. He has an impressive office in the District and an array of high-profile clients.”

One would expect a lawyer of Lewis’s stature and success to have impeccable judgment. But it appears that recently he made a serious misjudgment. He decided to sue a former client for an extra $500,000 in fees and interest, after having already received some $378,000 from that client.

Unfortunately for Glenn Lewis, that client was a lawyer — and decided to strike back. By the end of the whole episode, Lewis ending up owing his former client money — an amount in the six figures….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer of the Day: Suing a Client for Nonpayment of Fees — and Ending Up Owing the Client Money”

Your e-mail took me away from a multimillion dollar agreement I’m working on, so if I have to stop what I’m doing to view and respond to an e-mail, then I have to charge you.

Anonymous lawyer to businesswoman Jennifer Walzer on why he billed her $60 for a courtesy eight-word email.

Prestige has a price. Former Greenberg Traurig partner Mark McCombs found a sucker to foot the bill for him. As we reported earlier this month, he was the village attorney to Calumet Park, Illinois. He was charged with bilking the village of over one million dollars — money he allegedly sought not for personal gain, but to impress his Chicago partners with his book of business.

Greenberg Traurig has reviewed his overbilling and discovered that it was actually in the multi-millions. The Southtown Star reports that the firm has reviewed McCombs’s billing of Calumet Park dating back to 2002, when he joined the firm, and will be returning $3.2 million to the village of Calumet Park. That takes a chunk out of Greenberg’s PPP this year.

Village records show McCombs billed the village for tens of thousands of dollars each month for work that apparently never was done. He helped himself to property tax revenue that flowed into accounts of Calumet Park’s five tax increment financing districts.

After the jump, Greenberg Traurig managing shareholder Paul Fox says there is an upside to all this, and we have an UPDATE from the firm…

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