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Law firm picks wrong client to bust budget

An unidentified law firm is lucky their client didn’t call them out by name in her NY Times blog, after they charged her more than twice the agreed budget for a “relatively standard” lease review.

Excerpt:

… I had been charged for 0.2 hours at $300 an hour ($60) for one lawyer’s reply to an e-mail I’d written letting him know that I was not going to be available and would review his comments when I was back in my office. I wrote this as a courtesy to let them know my status.

It demanded no reply, but I got one anyway. It said: “I hope everything is O.K. Take your time.” I thought it was nice of him. It never occurred to me I would be charged for it.

Flabbergasted, I asked how they could charge me $60 for a courtesy e-mail. The answer left me even more flabbergasted. “Jennifer,” said the first lawyer, “your e-mail took me away from a multimillion dollar agreement I’m working on, so if I have to stop what I’m doing to view and respond to an e-mail, then I have to charge you.”

(Extra paragraphing added.) Commenter ‘Danny’ noted:

While it’s crazy they charged you for the courtesy email at all, it’s remarkable that, under their own system, they allocated 12 minutes to review your email and respond to it (0.2 hours = 12 minutes).

This episode just reinforces my conviction that legal-review processes for ‘standard’ contracts need to be reinvented.

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