Being in the Know: What Knowledge Should Attorneys Already Have When Accepting a Case?

Have you ever hired an attorney to handle a case based upon the attorney’s claimed expertise in the subject matter of the case and then watch the attorney proceed to run up a big bill researching the same issues the attorney claimed expertise in?  If so, you are not alone.

Unnecessary research is one of the more common issues I run into when reviewing independent counsel legal bills.  In this regard, please note that “unnecessary research” is different from “excessive research” which occurs when necessary research is overdone. Unnecessary research, on the other hand, occurs when the research is not “reasonable” in the first place.

I use the term “reasonable” as it ties into the ABA Model Rules of Prof. Responsibility (RPC) which ethically mandates that all attorney fees not be “unreasonable.”  See RPC 1.5 Fees.  So, it should go without saying that billing for unnecessary research is not reasonable.

But how do you know when research is unnecessary?  In other words, what knowledge should an attorney already have when taking on a case? Continue reading