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Former Partner of the Greenberg Traurig Law Firm Charged with Overbilling Client

Lawyerstealing In Martha Neil's recent ABA Journal article, Mark McCombs, a former partner of the Greenberg Traurig Law firm was recently let go and brought up on criminal charges for allegedly over-billing a client in excess of $1 million.  Here are some excerpts from the article: 

Mark McCombs, 50, is accused of taking advantage of longstanding professional and personal relationships with officials in Village of Calumet Park and charging more than $1 million since 2003 for work that wasn't performed, reports the Chicago Tribune. If convicted of the felony, he could be sentenced to six to 30 years in prison.

The Northwestern University School of Law graduate is no longer listed on the firm's website, but a 2002 Greenberg Traurig press release details his background and governmental practice at the time he began working at Greenberg Traurig's office in Chicago.

His Martindale-Hubbell listing says the village honored him by designating a "Mark McCombs Drive" in recognition of his leading role in redeveloping the commercial corridor along Ashland Avenue and Vermont Street.

A Chicago Sun-Times article provides further details about the alleged overbilling scheme and how it was discovered. In addition to overbilling, it says, McCombs is accused of charging a higher-than-authorized hourly fee.

Here is the link to the full article on the ABA Journal website:  "Greenberg Traurig Partner Charged With Overbilling Client By $1M to Gain Prestige in Firm"

Comments

Jay S. Fleischman

The question is whether the firm's drive for constant profitability was the real reason behind the overbilling, or whether it was inherent dishonesty. Either way there's no excuse, but it makes one wonder whether GT's policies are somehow complicit in wrongdoing.

GAL

Jay:

I completely agree. It's hard to justify the conduct at issue here. However, law firms in general have to take responsibility for the cultures they create. Is the culture one of providing maximum value for the least cost? Does the culture make it clear to all employees that they should never bill for time which isn't providing true value to the client? Obviously, one of the fundamental flaws in hourly billing is it creates incentives which are so anti-client if matched with a culture which drives billable time above all else. While firms can't be responsible for "one bad apple", this is a great opportunity for firms to revisit their mission and culture in order to reinforce that it is the client - not billable hours - which comes first.

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