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(Globe and Mail)   Law firm to client: "The $40,000 down there at the end of your bill? That's our fee for compiling it"   (theglobeandmail.com) divider line 59
    More: Asinine, Nortel, Ernst & Young, unsecured creditors, University of Western Ontario, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, cost accounts, Attorney's fee  
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5091 clicks; posted to Business » on 28 Jan 2013 at 3:32 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-01-28 02:57:22 PM  
That's really dickish.
 
2013-01-28 02:58:36 PM  
Bunch of animals...
 
2013-01-28 03:06:23 PM  
and at the very end

PS please sue us
 
2013-01-28 03:16:19 PM  
Some lawyers will "cc" another lawyer in the firm on an email, and then charge double for the email because "2 lawyers worked on it."
 
2013-01-28 03:22:05 PM  

ambassador_ahab: Some lawyers will "cc" another lawyer in the firm on an email, and then charge double for the email because "2 lawyers worked on it."


1) Carry 10 files to Motion Hour
2) Sit there and do nothing because none of them are on the docket
3) That's 10 billable hours in one day.
4) Three-hour three-martini lunch
5) Profit!
 
2013-01-28 03:23:30 PM  
I've been dinged by the expensive email fee.  If they minimum bill in 15 minute increments, expect a thread with your lawyer to be very expensive.  Just inform them that you want all communications over the phone.
 
2013-01-28 03:26:07 PM  

Dinjiin: Just inform them that you want all communications over the phonein the form of smoke signals.


It's the only way.
 
2013-01-28 03:26:49 PM  

give me doughnuts: ambassador_ahab: Some lawyers will "cc" another lawyer in the firm on an email, and then charge double for the email because "2 lawyers worked on it."

1) Carry 10 files to Motion Hour
2) Sit there and do nothing because none of them are on the docket
3) That's 10 billable hours in one day.
4) Three-hour three-martini lunch
5) Profit!


If you get caught billing someone for a court appearance when their case is not on the docket, you'll probably be lucky to get off with a suspension from the bar and nothing else.
 
2013-01-28 03:26:52 PM  

give me doughnuts: 2) Sit there and do nothing because none of them are on the docket


But wouldn't the attorney(s) be responsible for scheduling a hearing (if appropriate for the type of Motion)?
 
2013-01-28 03:27:29 PM  
Working in BigLaw as I do, that's absurd. Putting bills together is not billable work.
 
2013-01-28 03:30:27 PM  

DamnYankees: Working in BigLaw as I do, that's absurd. Putting bills together is not billable work.


It wasn't a bill, necessarily.  It was a 180-page document of some sort that they were ordered to prepare and submit to the court, and while I don't know squat about bankruptcy, I imagine it was probably in connection with getting leave of court to get paid, which I think you have to do in bankruptcy since there are a bunch of other creditors waiting to get paid.  I'm not saying it's totally a legit expense, but it wasn't like it was just running the bill.
 
2013-01-28 03:30:52 PM  

ambassador_ahab: give me doughnuts: 2) Sit there and do nothing because none of them are on the docket

But wouldn't the attorney(s) be responsible for scheduling a hearing (if appropriate for the type of Motion)?


Nabb1: give me doughnuts: ambassador_ahab: Some lawyers will "cc" another lawyer in the firm on an email, and then charge double for the email because "2 lawyers worked on it."

1) Carry 10 files to Motion Hour
2) Sit there and do nothing because none of them are on the docket
3) That's 10 billable hours in one day.
4) Three-hour three-martini lunch
5) Profit!

If you get caught billing someone for a court appearance when their case is not on the docket, you'll probably be lucky to get off with a suspension from the bar and nothing else.


The important phrase is bolded.
 
2013-01-28 03:31:33 PM  

Nabb1: DamnYankees: Working in BigLaw as I do, that's absurd. Putting bills together is not billable work.

It wasn't a bill, necessarily.  It was a 180-page document of some sort that they were ordered to prepare and submit to the court, and while I don't know squat about bankruptcy, I imagine it was probably in connection with getting leave of court to get paid, which I think you have to do in bankruptcy since there are a bunch of other creditors waiting to get paid.  I'm not saying it's totally a legit expense, but it wasn't like it was just running the bill.


Fair enough. I don't know much about bankruptcy procedure, other than when you are counsel for the debtor you basically have no motivation to reign in the bill.
 
2013-01-28 03:31:41 PM  

DamnYankees: Putting bills together is not billable work.


Serious answer: this.  Lawyers are supposed to keep track of all those matters as they go along, carefully keeping track of billable hours and whatnot.  It's silly to charge $40,000 to do something they should have been keeping updated through the entire process.
 
2013-01-28 03:32:15 PM  

ambassador_ahab: give me doughnuts: 2) Sit there and do nothing because none of them are on the docket

But wouldn't the attorney(s) be responsible for scheduling a hearing (if appropriate for the type of Motion)?



I'm talking about scamming clients for an extra billable hour, not actually working.
 
2013-01-28 03:33:50 PM  

ambassador_ahab: Some lawyers will "cc" another lawyer in the firm on an email, and then charge double for the email because "2 lawyers worked on it."


I had an attorney try this with me while I was paying him for criminal defense for an indigent family member.  He tried to argue that "since the other lawyer will probably read it" he was justified in adding to the cost.

I asked him if he thought the Ohio State Bar would agree with him, and the charges stopped.
 
2013-01-28 03:34:32 PM  

give me doughnuts: ambassador_ahab: give me doughnuts: 2) Sit there and do nothing because none of them are on the docket

But wouldn't the attorney(s) be responsible for scheduling a hearing (if appropriate for the type of Motion)?


I'm talking about scamming clients for an extra billable hour, not actually working.


There's puffery, and inflating, and then there's the example you gave, which is just outright fraud.  Why bother showing up at the court house in that situation?  Why drag ten files you don't need with you?  You won't be signed in on the docket sheet and you have no business in front of the court, no appearance on the record, so it's not like you can even show any evidence you were there.
 
2013-01-28 03:38:06 PM  
And people wonder why the country is in such horrible shape.  Almost ALL politicians started off as lawyers & the ones going into politics tend not to be the brighter ones (those are off figuring out how to bill $40k for 10 minutes of stuffing envelopes).

The Bard had it right oh so many centuries ago (although I'd submit that hanging's too good for them & a wooden stake through the heart followed up by a silver bullet to the head (just to make sure as their hearts are awfully small) would be more appropriate)
 
2013-01-28 03:38:52 PM  
If you read the article, the charge was NOT for creating the bill. It was creating the 180 page briefing and support to be filed in the bankruptcy court that would approve (or not) paying the bill.
 
2013-01-28 03:41:00 PM  
OMFG ridiculous billing if i have ever seen it.
 
2013-01-28 03:42:08 PM  

Lsherm: I asked him if he thought the Ohio State Bar would agree with him, and the charges stopped.


Well done.  That kind of crap is BS and gives honest lawyers a bad reputation.
 
2013-01-28 03:49:24 PM  

Recoil Therapy: And people wonder why the country is in such horrible shape.  Almost ALL politicians started off as lawyers & the ones going into politics tend not to be the brighter ones (those are off figuring out how to bill $40k for 10 minutes of stuffing envelopes).

The Bard had it right oh so many centuries ago (although I'd submit that hanging's too good for them & a wooden stake through the heart followed up by a silver bullet to the head (just to make sure as their hearts are awfully small) would be more appropriate)


Dickens wrote about this back in the 1840s. He found when the money was gone, the case finally closed. But not a minute earlier.
 
2013-01-28 03:55:32 PM  

Nabb1: give me doughnuts: ambassador_ahab: give me doughnuts: 2) Sit there and do nothing because none of them are on the docket

But wouldn't the attorney(s) be responsible for scheduling a hearing (if appropriate for the type of Motion)?


I'm talking about scamming clients for an extra billable hour, not actually working.

There's puffery, and inflating, and then there's the example you gave, which is just outright fraud.  Why bother showing up at the court house in that situation?  Why drag ten files you don't need with you?  You won't be signed in on the docket sheet and you have no business in front of the court, no appearance on the record, so it's not like you can even show any evidence you were there.


Exactly.

1) Carry 10 files to a three-hour three-martini lunch
2) That's 30 billable hours.
3) Profit!


Now THAT'S how you lawyer.
 
2013-01-28 04:24:30 PM  

Recoil Therapy: The Bard had it right oh so many centuries ago (although I'd submit that hanging's too good for them & a wooden stake through the heart followed up by a silver bullet to the head (just to make sure as their hearts are awfully small) would be more appropriate)


Have you actually read that play?  The line is spoken by a villain as the first step in creating a tyranny.  It's nto supposed to be actual good advice.
 
2013-01-28 04:28:09 PM  

impaler: Nabb1: give me doughnuts: ambassador_ahab: give me doughnuts: 2) Sit there and do nothing because none of them are on the docket

But wouldn't the attorney(s) be responsible for scheduling a hearing (if appropriate for the type of Motion)?


I'm talking about scamming clients for an extra billable hour, not actually working.

There's puffery, and inflating, and then there's the example you gave, which is just outright fraud.  Why bother showing up at the court house in that situation?  Why drag ten files you don't need with you?  You won't be signed in on the docket sheet and you have no business in front of the court, no appearance on the record, so it's not like you can even show any evidence you were there.

Exactly.

1) Carry 10 files to a three-hour three-martini lunch
2) That's 30 billable hours.
3) Profit!

Now THAT'S how you lawyer.


But you can honestly say that you were in court, and you had those case files with you.
Besides, 30 billable in one day is pushing it. It's harder to hide that in your billable hours/week. If you don't make it too unreasonable, then it's less likely that it will be questioned.
 
2013-01-28 04:37:37 PM  

give me doughnuts: Besides, 30 billable in one day is pushing it. It's harder to hide that in your billable hours/week. If you don't make it too unreasonable, then it's less likely that it will be questioned.


I'm guessing you aren't familiar with third party bill review these days.  Those bastards question EVERYTHING and cut all sorts of stuff that is legitimate work.
 
2013-01-28 04:50:22 PM  
I for one think we should get back to arguing about welfare queens.

/nothing to see here
 
2013-01-28 05:10:00 PM  
This is nickels and dimes compared to the fees charged by the lawyers during the Master Settlement Agreement between the tobacco companies and the states. And yes Hillary Clinton's old law firm was involved and made millions.
 
2013-01-28 05:12:56 PM  
Lawyers made more money on the Master Settlement Agreement between big tobacco and the states. Hillary Clinton's old law firm made an absolute fortune.
 
2013-01-28 05:13:17 PM  

mattharvest: Recoil Therapy: The Bard had it right oh so many centuries ago (although I'd submit that hanging's too good for them & a wooden stake through the heart followed up by a silver bullet to the head (just to make sure as their hearts are awfully small) would be more appropriate)

Have you actually read that play?  The line is spoken by a villain as the first step in creating a tyranny.  It's nto supposed to be actual good advice.


Have YOU read it? Because that's a pretty gross mis-characterisation of the line. Yes they're the villains, but they're joking about creating a utopia when they're in charge. This utopia also includes things like feeding everyone for free. They're not talking about a serious plan.

The whole "It's really about getting rid of people who might stand in the way of tyranny" is nothing more than lawyers with thin skin getting pissy.


CADE
Be brave, then; for your captain is brave, and vows
reformation. There shall be in England seven
halfpenny loaves sold for a penny: the three-hooped
pot; shall have ten hoops and I will make it felony
to drink small beer: all the realm shall be in
common; and in Cheapside shall my palfrey go to
grass: and when I am king, as king I will be,--
ALL
God save your majesty!
CADE
I thank you, good people: there shall be no money;
all shall eat and drink on my score; and I will
apparel them all in one livery, that they may agree
like brothers and worship me their lord.
DICK
The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.
 
Xai
2013-01-28 05:15:32 PM  
Because they can and there is no law or oversight to stop them.
 
2013-01-28 05:29:43 PM  
I called an attorney on a referral to ask if he might be the guy to defend my organization in a workmen's comp audit. We talked for about ten minutes and found out he did not have the requisite experience and I went on my way. Later on that day he sent me a link to the state's workmen's comp. website. I was thinking to myself, "why the hell would an attorney, who knew damn well that a professional claims manager would have been to that website hundreds of times, send a freaking web link to it?"

Then a week later I got a bill for $600 and I understood. I wrote him back, copied the referring party, and invited him to go fark himself.

A good attorney, like a good contractor, is worth his weight in gold. The dude had the gall to call me back and ask if I charged for consultations. I told him occasionally, yes. But the first call is always free. And if I am going to charge someone, they are informed of the rate, and agree to it, prior to the clock starting. Dick.
 
2013-01-28 05:38:24 PM  
I have hired lawyers on many occasions, and there was exactly one time out of the many that they didn't fark me up the ass with their billings. I never saw such a bunch of thieves in my entire life.
 
2013-01-28 06:18:56 PM  

DamnYankees: Fair enough. I don't know much about bankruptcy procedure, other than when you are counsel for the debtor you basically have no motivation to reign in the bill.


It must be only city kids who make this mistake.  They know it can't be "rain" but they've never ridden horses so it must be "reign."

/I laughed the first time but after many repetitions it's become a peeve.
 
2013-01-28 07:13:58 PM  

ambassador_ahab: DamnYankees: Putting bills together is not billable work.

Serious answer: this.  Lawyers are supposed to keep track of all those matters as they go along, carefully keeping track of billable hours and whatnot.  It's silly to charge $40,000 to do something they should have been keeping updated through the entire process.


It was a court filing not your run of the mill "here's our monthly bill".
 
2013-01-28 07:24:06 PM  
It also charged the company $40,000 to produce a 180-page document to submit to U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware detailing all its charges and fees

In other words, it produced a legal document and charged fees accordingly. Makes sense to me.
 
2013-01-28 07:29:37 PM  

ukexpat: ambassador_ahab: DamnYankees: Putting bills together is not billable work.

Serious answer: this.  Lawyers are supposed to keep track of all those matters as they go along, carefully keeping track of billable hours and whatnot.  It's silly to charge $40,000 to do something they should have been keeping updated through the entire process.

It was a court filing not your run of the mill "here's our monthly bill".


Still wasn't worth $40,000. That's a year's salary. $4,000 over a couple people MAYBE, but $40k for a month's records?
 
2013-01-28 07:38:53 PM  

doglover: Still wasn't worth $40,000. That's a year's salary. $4,000 over a couple people MAYBE, but $40k for a month's records?


In BigLaw, partners bill about $1,000 per hour and a midlevel associate is about $600. So a $40,000 bill would be about 40 hours by the associate and 16 hours by the partner.

That's a lot of work, but I don't really know how hard it is to put those docs together. I know I've certainly spend well more than 40 hours on documents before.
 
2013-01-28 09:38:05 PM  
Everyone hate lawyers, but loves their own the same way eveyone hates Congress but loves their Congress critter. If my attorney thinks about me while shaving his/her privates in the shower, I'll accept a billing for 15 minutes. At least they risked physical hazard. That's loyalty.
 
2013-01-28 09:42:22 PM  
I'm pretty sure I'm going to be fired because I've been reducing the inflated fees my boss was charging on certain matters. But, maybe not
 
2013-01-28 10:27:57 PM  

DamnYankees: doglover: Still wasn't worth $40,000. That's a year's salary. $4,000 over a couple people MAYBE, but $40k for a month's records?

In BigLaw, partners bill about $1,000 per hour and a midlevel associate is about $600. So a $40,000 bill would be about 40 hours by the associate and 16 hours by the partner.

That's a lot of work, but I don't really know how hard it is to put those docs together. I know I've certainly spend well more than 40 hours on documents before.


The bankruptcy court can be pretty demanding about the level of specificity required in these kinds of bankruptcies. I don't do bankruptcy either, but a buddy from law school is a 6th year at a firm like Cleary Gottlieb doing bankruptcy, and he has biatched about it on any number of occasions.
 
2013-01-28 10:32:20 PM  

Civil Discourse: DamnYankees: doglover: Still wasn't worth $40,000. That's a year's salary. $4,000 over a couple people MAYBE, but $40k for a month's records?

In BigLaw, partners bill about $1,000 per hour and a midlevel associate is about $600. So a $40,000 bill would be about 40 hours by the associate and 16 hours by the partner.

That's a lot of work, but I don't really know how hard it is to put those docs together. I know I've certainly spend well more than 40 hours on documents before.

The bankruptcy court can be pretty demanding about the level of specificity required in these kinds of bankruptcies. I don't do bankruptcy either, but a buddy from law school is a 6th year at a firm like Cleary Gottlieb doing bankruptcy, and he has biatched about it on any number of occasions.


Let me try that again:

The bankruptcy court can be pretty demanding about the level of specificity required in these kinds of documents. I don't do bankruptcy either, but a buddy from law school is a 6th year at a firm like Cleary Gottlieb doing bankruptcy, and he has biatched about it on any number of occasions.
 
2013-01-28 10:35:10 PM  

DamnYankees: doglover: Still wasn't worth $40,000. That's a year's salary. $4,000 over a couple people MAYBE, but $40k for a month's records?

In BigLaw, partners bill about $1,000 per hour and a midlevel associate is about $600. So a $40,000 bill would be about 40 hours by the associate and 16 hours by the partner.

That's a lot of work, but I don't really know how hard it is to put those docs together. I know I've certainly spend well more than 40 hours on documents before.


Considering how many volumes of fees they probably had to print out and review line by line to be sure they were in fact billable and not repetitive, that amount of hours makes sense to me. No comment on the hourly rate, though... the highest I have ever personally witnessed was around $750/hour for someone with over 20 years of practice, who was a Partner at one of the big international firms. Most of the work compiling these fees was probably done by low-level paralegals, who wouldn't merit more than $250/hour.
 
2013-01-28 11:58:12 PM  
As a BigFlaw bankruptcy attorney, I'm getting a kick out of these replies. Fee apps are an incredible pain in the ass and a tremendous amount of work in bankruptcy. It's not a standard invoice of $X for services rendered. Time needs to be very detailed and broken out into various tasks. If time is lumped together, the US Trustee will object. A motion also must be prepared. $40k is not really egregious for $1.25mm in fees. There is a general guideline that preparation of fee applications shouldn't be more than 3-5% of the fees applied for. This is on the lower end.
 
2013-01-29 12:37:45 AM  
Lawyers, bunch of ball washing bastards!
www.moviecatcher.net
 
2013-01-29 04:04:15 AM  
Sounds legit. Seriously.

I worked on a clusterfark of a project for a large retailer headquartered near Boston (yeah, not hard to guess). There had been a recent massive security breach, so every consulting firm smelled chum in the water and you can guess the result.

So as someone actually doing the work, there were so many overseers that every Friday I had to:

1. Prepare a timesheet with daily breakdown of hours, get it signed, and fax it to three places.
2. Log in to five - yes, five - separate online systems and enter my hours in each one, broken down by project codes, for each day. So probably 20 or so line entries in each of the five systems.
3. Prepare a spreadsheet with the same info and email that in to one of the firms that I'd just entered the same thing online
4. Prepare an invoice, with the same hours-by-project breakdown (and mind you, these were all codes that were part of the same project overall) and email that to three of the five firms from step 2.

For people who were charging expenses separately, there was a whole 'nother layer for that.

Oh, and they were adamant that they didn't want to pay for more than 40 hours a week. So, work 9 hours a day, on Fridays we'd all come in, spend four hours getting our billing paperwork done, and knock off for the week. And yes, we'd charge them for that.

"We're in a massive hurry!" That's nice. We're only working four days a week, and ten percent of our time on the project is just billing you.

And of course you couldn't get paid on time because somewhere, some numbers didn't match up.

Two months in, they actually asked me to start reporting my time in a sixth system. I laughed, said no. Told them I was flying home for the weekend, and got a voicemail as I was changing planes telling me I was off the project and would I please FedEx their laptop back.

Bonus: They pay my last invoice. I FedEx the laptop. Turns out ADP can *reverse* a direct deposit to your account, which they did. For no reason - one of the many consulting firms smelled an easy $16K. A very brief email from an attorney and suddenly that "paperwork error" was reversed and I was (again) paid.

So yeah, a big cost to prepare a bill, quite possibly legit.
 
2013-01-29 04:14:17 AM  
"It also charged the company $40,000 to produce a 180-page document to submit to U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware detailing all its charges and fees, declaring that it took 80 hours of staff time."

$500 is quite the steep rate for some office monkey who summed up the expenses.
 
2013-01-29 07:42:58 AM  
Sometimes I'm tempted to say "Screw Programming" and go to legal school.

Goddamn.
 
2013-01-29 08:19:27 AM  

Nabb1: give me doughnuts: ambassador_ahab: Some lawyers will "cc" another lawyer in the firm on an email, and then charge double for the email because "2 lawyers worked on it."

1) Carry 10 files to Motion Hour
2) Sit there and do nothing because none of them are on the docket
3) That's 10 billable hours in one day.
4) Three-hour three-martini lunch
5) Profit!

If you get caught billing someone for a court appearance when their case is not on the docket, you'll probably be lucky to get off with a suspension from the bar and nothing else.


You're joking, right?
 
2013-01-29 08:22:49 AM  

djkutch: Everyone hate lawyers, but loves their own the same way eveyone hates Congress but loves their Congress critter. If my attorney thinks about me while shaving his/her privates in the shower, I'll accept a billing for 15 minutes. At least they risked physical hazard. That's loyalty.


Who is this "everyone" you refer to?
 
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