This is a case study as to how a Rockville law firm overcharged its client by almost $10,000. The underlying case involved a relatively simple divorce action between parties, who had been married for only 3-years. The wife was represented by a Rockville law firm. I represented the husband.
The Rockville law firm charged $12,101 to its client from August 9, 2012 through February 25, 2013. I charged $2,860 to my client during the same time period. Many factors contributed to the $9,241 difference in attorney’s fees.
First, the Rockville law firm charged $310 per hour, whereas my rate is $200 per hour. Even if the Rockville law firm had billed at my rate of $200 per hour, its imputed fees of $7,820 still would have been grossly excessive.
Secondly, Rockville law firm was incredibly and, perhaps intentionally, inefficient. It billed an excessive amount of time for simple tasks. For example: The Rockville law firm billed 1.9 hours to prepare discovery requests. I billed my client 0.3 hours to prepare discovery requests. The Rockville law firm billed 10.5 hours to respond to my client’s discovery requests. I billed my client 4.1 hours to respond to the opposing party’s discovery requests.
Thirdly, the Rockville firm had 3 different attorneys perform legal services for the wife. When multiple attorneys work on the same case, there will be duplication of legal services. For example: On January 4, 2013, the parties attended a Scheduling Conference and a mediation session in Circuit Court. The Rockville law firm billed 3.9 hours for 2 different attorneys to represent the wife at these separate events. I billed my client 2.4 hours for the same events.
Fourthly, the Rockville law firm overworked or churned the file by performing unnecessary legal services. For example: The Rockville law firm charged almost $4,000 for its initial meetings with its client, drafting the Complaint for Divorce, preparing a Financial Statement, and having follow-up communications with its client. In contrast, I charged $500 for my initial meeting with my client, drafting the Answer and Counter-Complaint for Divorce, and preparing my client’s Financial Statement.
Overall, the Rockville law firm’s excessive bill can be attributed as follows:
15% Excessive hourly rate;
45% Inefficient rendering of legal services;
10% Duplication of services caused by multiple attorneys; and
30% Performing unnecessary legal services
Practice Pointer for Clients: Your selection of counsel will profoundly influence the amount of attorney’s fees that you will incur. I recommend that you choose an attorney who is both experienced and efficient and who charges $250 or less per hour.