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MONTH-IN-BRIEF (Jun 2021)

Ethics

Overbilling and Supervision

By Keith R. Fisher

A recent disciplinary complaint filed by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission alleges significant overbilling in violation of the Illinois versions of Model Rules 1.5(a) (charging and collecting an unreasonable fee) and 8.4(c) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation). 

This routine matter is noteworthy because the firm involved, Reed Smith, itself detected the overbilling and promptly offered the client a refund or a credit for fee payments for work that had not actually been performed.  Only the associate involved, and no one else in the firm, is the subject of the disciplinary action.     

The disciplinary complaint alleges that, on two separate projects, the associate overstated billings by over 90 hours.  At her hourly billing rate of $435, that would represent overbilling by more than $39,000.   

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