Yes, Some Unethical Attorneys Pad Their Bills. Here’s One Clear Case – Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

“We recently hired ‘Roger,’ who is a partner in a large law firm, to handle our small, educational foundation. His firm’s website and LinkedIn states that he has a master’s in taxation and represents charities and tax-exempt organizations.

“Our articles of incorporation allow us to send college students majoring in mechanical engineering to a German university for an intensive summer program in addition to improving their German. COVID made travel impossible, and the $125,000 in our foundation’s bank account is just sitting there, unused.

“So I phoned Roger, and asked if we could donate some of these funds to organizations that help refugees from Afghanistan and still maintain our charitable tax exemptions. We spoke for less than a minute. He said, ‘Let me do some research on this.’

“His bill just arrived, and we went insane. He charged $85 for that one-minute phone call — and close to $800 for himself and his paralegal for two hours of ‘research’ one day and over an hour ‘reviewing’ it and ‘documents’ the same day!’

“I Googled our question and found the answer in less than five minutes!  The senior partner in his firm told me, ‘Roger said that he had to spend this time researching your complicated issue.’

“I asked to be sent copies of his research and the documents he reviewed but have received nothing.

“Shouldn’t an attorney who holds himself out as working with tax-exempt organizations know the answer to that question already? Also, don’t I have the right to copies of his research and documents, if they exist at all, as we’re billed for them? What do you think about this? ‘Hans.’”

That Lawyer Should Have Known the Answer

I ran this question by Los Angeles attorney William M. Ramseyer whose law practice concentrates on charitable organizations. When I told him what Roger said about having to do research, he replied:

“What research? A lawyer with a master’s in taxation who claims to handle tax-exempt matters knows this stuff! We get the same question all the time. He lied to the client and his senior partner. This is bill padding and is illegal.

“Hans should have immediately been told, ‘There is a huge difference between sending students on educational trips and donating money to refugee organizations. You are facing legal and accounting fees that could use up much of your foundation’s money! Be patient. We will all be able to fly again eventually.’”

2 Ethics Experts Weigh in on Bill Padding

An expert of lawyer ethics and best practices, Los Angeles-based attorney fee arbitrator Aaron Shechet commented:

“While it is …….


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