The Blog Formerly Known As Practical Paralegalism
Times are tight for law firms. Clients are cutting back on legal services and reviewing their bills with fine-toothed combs. In response, many law firms are slashing staff, salaries and billing rates. But apparently everyone didn’t get the memo to economize.
So it’s understandable that U.S. District Judge Richard Berman was a bit ticked off when he discovered that Richards Kibbe & Orbe LLP, the receiver’s firm in a government civil case arising out of an alleged Ponzi scheme, submitted a bill with a $190.00 per hour charge for a paralegal to deliver a letter to the courthouse.
…Why not just use FedEx? the judge asked.
“It just sends a bad signal,” Berman said.
Okay, so maybe FedEx isn’t the optimal solution for a same-day delivery to the local courthouse, but in a firm the size of Richards Kibbe & Orbe, with “more than 80 lawyers in New York, Washington, D.C. and London”, chances are good that they had more cost-conscious choices than using a paralegal with a $190 per hour billing rate to deliver a document – such as an internal or outside courier, or any other clerical employee whose hours weren’t billable.
If I were the client, I’d protest when I saw that particular line item on my bill, too.
Judge Berman questioned other items on the firm’s bill as well and was peeved that he was the one to spot them. His response?
Berman last month denied Richards’ requests to get paid, citing how little remained for alleged victims to recoup.