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NCJ Number: 150784 Find in a Library
Title: Greed, Ignorance and Overbilling
Journal: ABA Journal  Volume:80  Dated:(August 1994)  Pages:62-66
Author(s): D Ricker
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 5
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Overbilling by lawyers is becoming a prominent issue in the media, one of the most recent examples being the resignation of Webster Hubbell as U.S. Associate Attorney General in the wake of President Clinton's Whitewater difficulties.
Abstract: Allegations of overbilling by lawyers are relatively common and are not limited to large corporate law firms. In Los Angeles, for example, overbilling on death penalty cases involving indigents in 1993 prompted the county to replace an hourly fee system with flat fees. Lawyers themselves believe the problem of overbilling is pervasive and that a significant amount of work done on large cases may not be necessary. According to one lawyer, however, most dishonesty is the result of self-deception rather than conscious fraud. Further, in some cases, overbilling may result from inadequate or sloppy recordkeeping. High hourly billing appears to be a common denominator in many overbilling cases, and improper billing practices over the course of a litigation may be more prevalent than a single transgression. Overbilling may be partially the result of high overhead expenses or the desire to maintain high profit margins. The American Bar Association has issued a formal opinion to prevent overbilling. In addition, clients should take active steps to protect themselves against overbilling. Few clients, however, can afford to retain a second legal counsel to investigate the first firm for suspected overbilling. Some clients have successfully used private investigators to debrief former law firm support staff.
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Attorneys; Corporate crimes; Fraud; Legal malpractice; Misuse of funds; Professional misconduct
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