Legal billing auditors. Why a hearse horse snickers when it carries a lawyers bones.

By LawReader Senior Editor Stan Billingsley 

We recently ran across an article in the magazine Baseline. The title of the article was  Throwing the Book at Wayward Lawyers.Your billing practices may be audited.  Did you know that there is such a thing as a legal auditing company?  One company (Stuart Maue) produces auditing revenues in the range of $20 million a year just from auditing lawyers billing practices.Carl Sandburg long ago wrote a poem that poses the question, Why a hearse horse snickers hauling a lawyer’s bones.  (See full text of poem below.)  The existence of auditors who focus on legal billing practices may finally answer the famous question posed by Carl Sandburg in his poem. 

Some selected quotes from the Baseline article:

   Stuart Maue has developed a reputation for being a thorn in the side of the legal profession. Over the years, the St. Louse firm ahs helped corporation uncov er some of the …creative accounting methods used by their outside legal teams. Take for example the lawyerw who bill clients for more than 24 hours worth of work in a single day.  Or the lawyers that send four $150 an hour lawyers to take a deposition where one would suffice.    There was the team of Texas lawyers defending a Texas golf course developer and (billed the developer their hourly rate for several rounds of golf.)   Stuart Maue’s weapon of choice for reining in runaway lawyer’s bills is business intelligence, in the form of databases, software and tools to analyzes reams of bills and invoices. Since 2000 the company has invested more than $10 million dollars in expanding its capabilities, creating portals for clients to they can better understand how and where their money is being spent.    The firm’s big break came in l980 when it was hired by Fireman’s Fund Insurance of Novato, California to audit suspicious legal bills it was receiving related to claims filed against an real estate scam. (The company) helped uncover an operation run by 20 lawyers who had bilked insurance companies for as much as $100 million in dubious fees.   Corporations usually develop a standard set of operating guidelines for law firms acting on their behalf, such as no more than two lawyers may attend a deposition, or lawyers may not travel first class. If an audit finds that four lawyers took part in a deposition, that item would be flagged as not-compliant.The Lawyers Know Too Much
Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)
  The lawyers, Bob, know too much.
  They are chums of the books of old John Marshall.
  They know it all, what a dead hand wrote,
  A stiff dead hand and its knuckles crumbling,
  The bones of the fingers a thin white ash.
      The lawyers know
      a dead man’s thought too well.
  In the heels of the higgling lawyers, Bob,
  Too many slippery ifs and buts and howevers,
  Too much hereinbefore provided whereas,
  Too many doors to go in and out of.
      When the lawyers are through
      What is there left, Bob?
      Can a mouse nibble at it
      And find enough to fasten a tooth in?
      Why is there always a secret singing
      When a lawyer cashes in?
      Why does a hearse horse snicker
      Hauling a lawyer away?
  The work of a bricklayer goes to the blue.
  The knack of a mason outlasts a moon.
  The hands of a plasterer hold a room together.
  The land of a farmer wishes him back again.
      Singers of songs and dreamers of plays
      Build a house no wind blows over.
  The lawyers–tell me why a hearse horse snickers
      hauling a lawyer’s bones.

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