Emails Reveal Legal Bill Padding

Lawyers should know better than to send joke emails they want to keep private. Emails among attorneys at DLA Piper, the world's biggest law firm, have become public in a lawsuit about overbilling.

The suit is a counterclaim by an energy executive who has $675,000 in unpaid bills with DLA Piper. In the suit, Adam H. Victor accuses DLA Piper of inflating billable time by performing unnecessary tasks and taking too long to complete them with too many staff.

The emails seem to confirm his claims. Here are two examples, captured by The New York Times. In the first, an attorney says that "random people" were working on the case "for whatever reason" to "churn that bill, baby!" 

  DLA Piper 1

In a second email, an attorney gloats about going $200,000 over the firm's estimate.

DLA Piper 2
Read more emails.

Discussion Starters: 

  • Describe what you perceive to be the working environment that supports these types of emails. In other words, what makes these acceptable-perhaps even encouraged?
  • How do emails become public in such situations? Aren't they private-just sent to one or two people?