Suit by Fired Lawyer Claims Law Firm Encouraged Fraud with 3,000-Hour Billable Quota
Posted Dec 12, 2011 12:37 PM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
A California lawyer who says he was fired from his law firm because he couldn’t meet a quota requiring 3,000 billable hours a year has filed an employment bias suit over his ouster.
The former associate, Richard Unitan, claims the unrealistic requirement forced lawyers to lie about their hours, the Los Angeles Daily Journal (sub. req.) reports. Unitan, a Riverside litigator, claims (PDF) he was essentially fired for not committing billing fraud.
A 3,000 hour billable requirement would require working about eight hours a day, every day of the year. Most firms require no more than 2,100 billable hours a year.
The defendant is the worker compensation defense firm, Adelson, Testan, Brundo & Jimenez in Van Nuys, according to the Daily Journal story. The suit filed in Los Angeles superior court says Unitan was required to bill for his “thinking time” and to bill every task in six minute increments, no matter how short. "For example, if a lawyer receives and reads an e-mail, he or she may bill .1 hours; and if that same lawyer then responds to the e-mail, that may be another .1 hours," the suit says.
Adelson Testan lawyer Darrin Meyer told the Daily Journal he was "truly shocked" to hear of Unitan's claims. "It is completely false, and it is, I think, a desperate fabrication," he said. "Nobody here commits billing fraud. The allegations are completely untrue."
Updated at 3:14 p.m. to add a link to the complaint.