A story in the online ABA Journal on Feb. 21 told of a lawsuit filed against legal giant Morrison & Foerster (MoFo) in Federal Court in Houston. The suit alleges that the firm engaged in “egregious overbilling” after it was hired last May to wind down several companies.
Of course, whether MoFo (that’s how the firm refers to itself) actually engaged in the types of egregious conduct alleged is a matter to be decided in court. But I am her to affirm that the egregious conduct alleged in the Complaint is typical of what I find whenever I audit legal bills from BIG law firms.
Fairly typical of how BIG law firms operate is to overstaff a case (34 in two months of work in the MoFo case). This overstaffing with so many mouths to feed I invariably find leads to duplicative and unnecessary work being done and billed for (also alleged in the Complaint).
Also, I often have found that when work is parceled out among so many attorneys in case, it is difficult for the lead attorney (if there is a lead attorney) to know exactly what is going on at any given time. This results in attorneys focusing only on their individual tasks with no one really keeping any eye on the bigger picture.
Failure by someone at the firm to keep an eye on the bigger picture may have been at play in the MoFo case as it is alleged that the firm failed to timely assert $27 Million in claims in the bankruptcy court as well as properly advise their clients on other issues. This “no one was really in charge-in charge” issue is what I often see when reviewing legal bills from BIG law firms involving multiple layers of partners and associates each working on different aspects of a case.
Again, I am only relaying allegations in the Complaint which you can read for yourself by clicking on the link to the Complaint in the ABA online article. My only point in this article is to say that what is alleged in the Complaint is very typical of what I come upon when reviewing legal bills from BIG law firms.
Because of what I typically see when reviewing legal bills from BIG law firms, I always advise that whenever there is a choice between hiring a BIG law firm or a small or mid-sized law firm, never, ever, ever, ever hire the BIG law firm.
But if you have already hired a BIG law firm? If you have and the firm’s legal bills are mounting, it would be a good idea to have me review them. Remember, there is no charge to do a “preliminary evaluation” on legal bills totaling $50,000 or more. This preliminary evaluation will determine whether overbilling exists. All you have to do to initiate the request is to go to the “Request an Evaluation” page and upload your legal bills.