Biglaw Associate Billed 277 Hours To Review 20 Documents, Earns 60-Day Suspension To Keep Not Reviewing Documents

Missing out on a whole 100 documents worth of time!

look in the documentsA former Dentons associate who billed 277 hours over the course of around three months to review a mere 20 documents has now received a license suspension. Earlier this week, the Illinois Supreme Court issued a 60-day suspension (stayed after 30 days, giving way to one year of probation) to attorney David Hall, who admitted to the allegations.

Hall claimed that he intended to eventually perform the work he listed on his timesheets, but never got around to it before the firm realized that he hadn’t opened most of the 425 documents he was tasked with reviewing. He’s since sought treatment for the depression and anxiety that he claims motivated the overbilling, a decision that played a role in the court’s relatively mild penalty and belief that Hall was unlikely to repeat this ethical lapse.

Dentons caught the issue before the client received a bill for non-existent work, though it remains confusing how the firm found itself three months behind on sending out bills. Or how the disconnect between the reported work and the unopened documents took so long to uncover.

It’s not like 425 documents should be taking 277 hours either!

Which is why this story is ultimately less about ethics and more about legal technology. Real-time document review oversight, time tracking, billing software, project management tools… these are all readily available solutions that firms can install that could’ve avoided this flap.

While not every firm has these products — and they should — Dentons almost assuredly does. But software is only as powerful as its adoption. If teams aren’t keeping on top of these tools, then they’re going to be flashing warnings into the ether for months.

Former BigLaw associate gets suspension for inflating time spent on document review project [ABA Journal]


Earlier: Biglaw Associate Bills 277 Hours To Review 20 Documents And I’m Fascinated To Know How This Happened

HeadshotJoe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.