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Big Firm Lawyers Joke About Overbilling Clients

According to the New York Times, a lawsuit over unpaid legal bills has given rise to a counterclaim for massive overbilling by one of the world’s largest law firms. Emails disclosed in discovery make the practice sound not only routine, but suggest it was the firm’s policy. As a lawyer put it in one of the disclosed emails: “random people working full time on random research projects in standard ‘churn that bill, baby!’ mode.”
Good lawyers get paid very well without padding their hours; hiring a large firm does not guarantee a client will be treated fairly. Perhaps most importantly, the common big-firm practice of throwing huge numbers of attorneys at a case often undermines the quality of the legal work. No one keeps track of what so many others are doing, and individual lawyers may have an incentive to obfuscate rather than clarify because their minds are focused on the bottom line and not on their clients’ legal problems.

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