17 March 2008

Lawyer Math Strikes Again

I can imagine a hundred ways it could happen legitimately. For example, on rare occassions when I have a nervous nellie client, I sometimes put all my time for a month's worth of daily or near daily two minute phone calls with the client in a lump sum entry on the last day of the month (which usually saves the individual client money). It is also easy to make a data entry error that reports time on the wrong day in a billing program. (I run a report that shows hours billed by day each month before my bills go out to catch this kind of error.)

I am also a bit surprised to see an attorney billing by the hour in a drunk driving case. Most attorneys I have met who handle those kinds of cases charge on some variant of a flat fee basis, with one fee if the case can be resolved prior to trial by plea bargain, and another if the case goes to trial.

But, the facts alleged in this El Paso County, Colorado lawsuit over excessive billing still look bad:

Gretchen Smith, 74, has accused Mark Rue of fraud and theft from an at-risk adult, among other claims.

Her lawsuit, filed Feb. 29, alleges Rue inflated and fabricated time records and billing statements for his representation of her in drinking and driving cases.

Part of the lawsuit says Rue's own records show he billed a total of 42 hours worth of work to multiple clients in one 24-hour day.

Lawyer math is often weird. For example, in lawyer math, mandated by the rules of civil procedure, a ten day deadline is actually longer than an eleven day deadline. But, even lawyers don't normally turn twenty-four hour days in forty-two hour days.

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