"The Billable Hour's Staying Power"

One of my least favorite tasks -- & I'm sure others' as well -- billing time! "As Abraham Lincoln once said, "A lawyer's advice is his stock in trade." That short phrase has been repeated by attorneys throughout the years and is etched on brass plaques hanging in law firms worldwide. "Clearly, Abe knew the value of his expertise. He also was reportedly a stickler for collecting payment. If money was tight, clients might hand over a milk cow or plump hen as payment for his services. [snip] "Livestock aside, billing schemes have become more complex as years passed. Trends... Read more →

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"Enron Defense Firm Stuck With the Tab"

I guess this shouldn't be surprising news to anyone who's followed the Enron mess: "To the list of employees, investors and businesses who suffered financial misfortune in Enron Corp.'s demise, add this one: the law firm defending former chief executive Jeffrey K. Skilling. "Los Angeles-based O'Melveny & Myers LLP, which has represented Skilling on both civil and criminal charges since 2001, collected what in a typical case would be a fat payday: $23 million from its client and $17 million more from his insurance policies. "But, true to form, Enron is still destroying financial expectations. Even before the trial began... Read more →

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Over 1,000 paralegals have worked on the Oxycontin case(s)...!

And at least who will pay the legal bills has been decided: "Purdue Pharma has settled with its insurer over lofty legal costs the drug maker had racked up in defending against OxyContin suits. [snip] "None of the pending OxyContin lawsuits has gone to trial, WSJ reported. The report further noted that, although insurance payment disputes are common, the Purdue-Steadfast imbroglio was a standout. "Steadfast [Insurance Co.] alleged that Purdue hired 40 law firms in 32 states to defend it in the cadre of OxyContin suits, encompassing 322 partners, 849 associates and 1,023 paralegals, who combined billed the insurer for... Read more →

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"...$195 an hour for work by paralegals..."

Have paralegal billing practices gotten out of control? The New York Sun seems to think so: "A bitter legal brawl over attorneys' fees has erupted in a national cosmetics pricing class action lawsuit, with feuding camps of plaintiffs' lawyers slinging allegations of flagrant billing abuses and extortion. "Among the alleged abuses were bills of $195 an hour for work by paralegals who were paid just $30, claims that attorneys and paralegals worked 24-hour or even 72-hour days, and charges of $90 an hour or more for cleaning desks and filing. [snip] "Clerks and paralegals at another plaintiffs' firm involved in... Read more →

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"Firm keeps an eagle eye on clients' legal bills"

Interesting news about a company that audits legal bills: "Harry Maue tried to start a legal auditing business three times before getting his company off the ground in 1985. "Stuart, Maue, Mitchell & James Ltd. of Bridgeton helps companies manage their legal bills, which can be a mystifying and burgeoning expense in a litigious society. [snip] "The third time, an article about the Bridgeton company in Inc. magazine helped Maue land a contract with an insurance company in California. "The insurer suspected that defense and plaintiff's lawyers were padding their bills. Maue and his auditors worked closely with postal inspectors,... Read more →

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Up, Up, & Away!

Do higher billing rates for lawyers -- partners & associates -- mean paralegal rates will be climbing too? Perhaps, but it's definitely "a good time to be a lawyer." "Billing rates for law firm attorneys jumped last year, with partners and associates raking in more dollars per hour than ever before. And at least one partner now charges $1,000, the first four-figure hourly rate reported to The National Law Journal: [snip] "As for associates, 82 firms raised their highest rates, 15 decreased them and five maintained them. Seventy-four raised their lowest rates, eight decreased them and 20 kept them the... Read more →

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