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NY Law Firms Aggressively Pursue Fees; Up to Seven Suits Filed Weekly in Manhattan

Posted Oct 23, 2012 7:17 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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New York law firms are getting fed up with uncollected fees, and they are doing something about it.

Increasingly the firms are suing their clients and risking a malpractice counterclaim, the New York Law Journal reports. In the last few months, between three and seven fee suits were filed on a weekly basis in state court in Manhattan, the publication found.

According to the story, “The fee suits were brought by large and small firms, and boutiques and solo attorneys who have pursued amounts ranging from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.”

Among the law firms filing suit is Epstein Becker, which filed four complaints on one day in September seeking $390,000 in all. A law firm spokeswoman said Epstein Becker only sues for collection after “deliberate and careful consideration” and it doesn’t do so very often.

Firms are likely becoming more aggressive because of the poor economy, according to McKenna Long Aldridge partner Shari Klevens, who represents law firms sued for malpractice. Suits are particularly plentiful at the end of the year as law firms try to complete their collections.

But Klevens cautions against litigation as a first step. In 42 percent to 47 percent of fee collection suits, the client responds with a malpractice claim, she said.

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