How not to bill; how not to deal with a fee dispute; the story of a Yank lawyer

Courtesy of Justinian, I bring you the story of the overcharging New Jersey lawyer who charged like this:

“With regard to the fee, he purportedly spent entire days, sometimes eight or nine hours per day, for several days in a row, apparently in ‘lockdown’ — researching, reviewing and negotiating issues that had little or no bearing on the substance of the transaction. Further, respondent presented nothing to substantiate the time charges underlying the bill. Nothing in the record refuted Ferwerda’s compelling testimony that respondent’s services should have been limited to review of the SBA loan documents, an unalterable lease agreement, and the franchise agreement, itself a non-negotiable contract.”

Then, when the client hesitated before paying the $50,000 bill, he:

“threatened her with criminal prosecution for “theft of services” and he didn’t stop there: He also warned that she might lose her business, her home and her professional license.”

She went to another lawyer, who instituted a fee arbitration. The first lawyer settled by waiving his fee, all the time contending he was perfectly entitled to it. When he was charged with gross overcharging and intimidatory conduct, he failed to appear at the hearing, earning himself a break for 6 months.

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