October 24, 2007
Overbilling Leads To Suspension
A lawyer who had previously been reprimanded and suspended for a year (stayed) was suspended for two years by the Ohio Supreme Court. He had been retained to represent a husband and wife in an action against the architects and contractor who designed and built their home. The lawyer billed over $69,000 for his services. He hired another lawyer to assist him and charged for work reviewing discovery requests and providing drafts to the other lawyer where there was no evidence of any work performed. He also charged 5.5 hours for work on the testimony of an expert after it was determined that an expert was not necessary. He had made refunds to the clients totalling over $18,000.
"[The lawyer's] penchant for stretching the truth in his billing calls into doubt his fitness to remain in a profession grounded on candor and fairness... Lawyers should strive to achieve their cluents' lawful objectives as expeditiously as possible and should afford clients the same honesty and diligence that they would want and expect if they were seeking professional advice and service themselves." (Mike Frisch)
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Without knowing the evidence, it's hard to draw a fair conclusion, but, based on the case summary, I find it hard to distinguish between billing for time spent on preparing expert testimony AFTER it was determined such testimony would not be required from billing for time not spent on the case at all, which sounds like fraud to me and which has about it the distinct feel of theft. Good that he made restitution. And a suspension of two years will be very difficult to come back from.
Why did he do it? Was there anyone who could have stopped him?
Posted by: Wick R. Chambers | Oct 24, 2007 2:03:42 PM