“For the past decade, I have fought with DLA to reduce their legal bills. And now I’m going to keep on fighting.”
Adam Victor, CEO TransGas Development Systems
New York Times, DealBook online, March 25, 2013
I have never used a picture in any of my posts. Until now. I just could not resist using this one. It is a classic. This is a picture of one angry CEO.
According to the DealBook article, Mr. Victor is angry about what he believes to be inflated legal bills he has gotten over the years from DLA Piper. Likely he was also not very amused when he read some interesting e-mails from DLA Piper attorneys with comments like “I hear we are already 200k over our estimate — that’s Team DLA Piper!” and “Churn that bill, baby!” and “That bill shall know no limits.”
If only Mr. Victor had sought my advice before he hired DLA Piper. I would have told him my first rule when it comes to hiring a law firm which is to NEVER, EVER, EVER hire a BIG law firm when you can hire a smaller law firm to do the same work.
I also would have told Mr. Victor that the billing problems he identified with DLA Piper are the very same ones I find whenever I audit the legal bills of a BIG law firm. Honestly, I think that all the lawyers in all the BIG law firms must have gone to the same seminar to learn the techniques on how to overbill their clients.
I’m here to tell you that I do not see the level of overbilling with smaller law firm bills that I see all the time with BIG law firm bills. Not even close. Of course, there is a reason why BIG law firms overbill with such abandon. That reason is that so many BIG corporations that hire BIG law firms let them get away with it.
If you don’t believe me on this point, then believe Rees Morrison. Rees is a consultant to some of the top corporate legal departments in the country. He is in a better position than most to know about what BIG corporate law departments do or do not when it comes to reining in rampant overbilling by BIG law firms. Thus it is that you should read his blog post “Fourteen reasons, ranked by legitimacy, why a law department doesn’t bring the hammer down on its law firms.”
Better still, Morrison’s blog post should be required reading by every corporate CEO. Perhaps if it was required reading, there might be more angry CEOs and I might have more pictures to use in future blog posts.