Saturday, August 13, 2022

Bill Padding Draws Suspension

An nine-month suspension has been ordered by a justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court for billing misconduct in custom and international trade matters.

From the BBO summary

In 2016, the firm hired a junior associate who had no prior experience with international trade law or customs work. Throughout 2018 and 2019, the respondent adjusted the associate’s billing entries for several client matters to bill for time she had not included. He made two types of adjustments: he increased her entries to reflect time that he had spent conferencing with her about the client’s matter, time he had not included in his own entries; and he increased time where he thought she had underbilled, including failing to bill in fifteen-minute increments. At no point did he consult with the associate about these adjustments.

In 2018, the respondent increased the associate’s hours for a total additional time value of approximately $16, 575. In 2019, he increased her hours by a total additional time value of approximately $31,229. The 2018 and 2019 invoices were inaccurate in two respects: the respondent failed to identify accurately the attorney who performed the work; and, because he did not consult with the associate about the accuracy of the time changes, he failed to ensure that the invoices were indeed accurate. This conduct violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(c) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation) and 8.4(h) (conduct reflecting adversely on fitness to practice).

The parties had jointly proposed the sanction. (Mike Frisch)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2022/08/in-2016-the-firm-hired-a-junior-associate-who-had-no-prior-experience-with-internationaltrade-law-or-customs-work-throughou.html

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