Law Practice

Celebrity Gossip: Contested Legal Fees

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It isn’t every day that Us magazine reports about an attorney’s claim against a client for legal fees. But it did so in detail today, after celebrity lawyer Debra Opri contended in a court filing that Anna Nicole Smith’s former boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, had become “obsessed” with her.

As a result, Birkhead made excessive demands on Opri’s time as she successfully represented him in a claim to prove that he was the father of Smith’s infant daughter, following Smith’s death earlier this year from a drug overdose, the Us article says, quoting from the lawyer’s filing. “When Opri took a short weekend trip to Mexico, Birkhead chastised her for not telling him that she was going to Mexico,” the document states. “Opri became disturbed that Birkhead was becoming obsessed with her and that he tracked her regular movements.”

Also, “Opri’s lawyers say that ‘Birkhead was a very demanding and high maintenance client,’ ” the article states, noting that “Birkhead’s contract with Opri authorized an hourly charge for her services to be $475.”

Opri and Birkhead are now locked in litigation in Los Angeles. After she sued him May 29 for non-payment of legal fees, seeking arbitration, he responded with a June 1 salvo claiming fraud and legal malpractice on her part, among other alleged causes of action.

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