Case study of how a Rockville law firm overcharged its client by almost $10,000

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.



Complimentary Case Consultation

To contact us simply complete this form or contact us using the information provided below.

Receive Complimentary Case Consultation

Law Office of Stewart Andrew Sutton, LLC
8 Executive Park Court
Germantown, Maryland 20874
Telephone: 301-916-5000
Fax: 301-916-1201