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Battle of the Titans: Divorce Lawyer’s Fee Suit Backfires in Bar Prez Battle

Posted Sep 27, 2010 9:13 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A former president of the Virginia Bar Association came out the loser when he sued a former client for additional attorney fees and the client fought back, using expert testimony from another ex-bar president.

The lawyer who sued, Glenn Lewis, “is an acknowledged titan of the D.C. area divorce bar,” the Washington Post reports. His suit backfired when another former state bar president, Bernard DiMuro, was among the defense experts who said Lewis had done a poor job and didn’t deserve the nearly $900,000 he had sought in fees and interest for handling a divorce that was resolved without trial.

Lewis had sued the former client, who is also the lawyer, for $500,000 in additional fees and interest even though he had already been paid $378,000, the story says. The client countersued for malpractice.

On Friday, Lewis settled for $102,000, a sum that includes $25,000 in sanctions levied against Lewis’ lawyers for defying pretrial orders, the story says. Lewis told the Post that he still feels strongly that the client “owes every penny” of the amount sought. He had been a difficult client, Lewis said, with tax and law practice problems, and he was bent on revenge with his wife.

DiMuro, on the other hand, told the Post that the divorce was of the “garden variety” and it involved a “modest estate for this area.” He obtained billing records for all of Lewis' cases, finding days where Lewis had billed 39 and 40 hours, and one in which he billed 71 hours, the story says. Lewis attributed the long hours to “block billing” in which he billed for many days all at once.

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