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DLA Piper’s overbilling suit settles

Case made headlines when emails released implied the firm purposely overbilled its client

Last month, DLA Piper found itself trying to deflate implications that one of its firmwide best practices is to overbill clients. But the drama appears to be over, as both sides have reached a settlement.

The controversy centered on a lawsuit DLA was embroiled in with a former client, TransGas Development Systems. DLA sued TransGas in 2010 for an unpaid $675,000 bill, and the company’s CEO Adam Victor fired back with a countersuit, claiming DLA had overbilled him.

To support his claims, Victor produced emails among DLA lawyers that implied the firm was purposely overcharging TransGas. One of the emails from DLA lawyer Erich Eisenegger read, “I hear we are already 200K over our estimate—that’s Team DLA!” Another email, penned by DLA lawyer Christopher Thomson, said, “Now Vince has random people working full time on random research projects in standard 'churn that bill, baby!' mode. That bill shall know no limits.” Thomson is referring to Vincent Roldan, another DLA lawyer.

In March, DLA co-chairmen and co-managing partners released a memo denying any wrongdoing on the part of the firm, saying the lawyers’ emails were nothing more than a failed attempt at humor. "It is unfortunate that the unprofessional behavior of these lawyers by writing those emails has distracted attention away from the fact that a client refused to pay his bills, and is now being exploited by a party in litigation for their own advantage."

None of the three lawyers involved in the emails are currently employed with DLA. Details of DLA’s agreement with TransGas have not been disclosed.

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Cathleen Flahardy

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