Former BigLaw associate gets suspension for inflating time spent on document review project

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A former Dentons associate in Chicago has received a short suspension for his claim that he had reviewed 425 documents for a client, when in reality he had reviewed only 20 of those documents.

On Jan. 17, the Illinois Supreme Court suspended former associate David Hall for 60 days, with the suspension stayed after 30 days in favor a one-year period of probation. The suspension takes effect Feb. 7.

Hall had agreed to the suspension and admitted the allegations.

In late 2020 and early 2021, Hall claimed to have worked 277 hours on the document review project, according to the Dec. 27 amended petition for discipline submitted to the Illinois Supreme Court. The law firm discovered that Hall had not opened 405 of the 425 documents that he claimed to have reviewed.

The firm discovered the false billing entries before clients were billed for the work.

When Dentons attorneys confronted Hall, he admitted that the time entries were false. The firm fired him.

The petition cited several factors in mitigation. Hall had not previously been disciplined, he promptly admitted the misconduct and expressed regret, and he sought treatment for depression and anxiety after his firing. He also said he intended to perform the work that he claimed to have already completed.

A psychiatrist retained by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission determined that Hall was fit to practice law and was unlikely to repeat his misconduct if he complied with a treatment regimen.

The petition says Hall violated an ethics rule barring conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.

Hall was admitted to practice law in 2019. He currently lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is seeking employment, according to the Dec. 27 petition.

The ABA Journal was unable to reach Hall at the number listed for him in Illinois attorney registration records.

Dentons previously released this statement to the ABA Journal: “As noted in the complaint, Dentons immediately and appropriately addressed the situation and none of our clients were impacted.”

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