(Yes, I know I’ve used this title before. )
This is really quite extraordinary. I am a jealous guy. The law firm that represents Chris Christie on the taxpayer's dime has made a small fortune (Well, for most of us, a large fortune) off of a case that does not yet even exist.
According to documents released last week, the law firm hired by Governor Christie to deal with his legal problems concerned Bridgegate has billed taxpayers $6.51 million for work through April. Gibson Dunn & Crutcher was hired by Christie to defend him and his office with the firm’s most notable achievement being the production of a highly contested report that exonerated Christie from any wrongdoing. Yes, the law firm has been paid millions in taxpayer dollars to produce a report that says their client is innocent.
Gibson Dunn originally proposed billing the state of New Jersey $650 an hour but eventually agreed to $350 an hour.
The firm submitted bills to the Attorney General’s Office that said in March it had 59 people working on the case and that they charged the state $2.49 million in fees. One lawyer two years out of law school billed for 342 hours that month — or an average of 11 hours every day in March. His taxpayer tab was almost $120,000.
Friday’s disclosure means that the lawyers representing Christie’s office, his staff and those working for the legislative committee investigating the scandal have charged taxpayers $7.87 million, according to bills released so far.
I truly admire that associate, and I'm sure she or he is partnership material. If he or she can survive, that is. 11 hours a day, assuming not a single day off. Many people who practice law would assert that it is physically and mentally impossible to spend that much time productively doing legal work. More astounding: all of it performed on one case, and wouldn't you like to know if that eager beaver billed time to other files during that marathon month.
Inquiring minds want to know how anyone could fill all that time, considering that there was no actual pending litigation and no adversary, though potential adversaries abound.
But the heroic associate's feats are dwarfed by those of the firm as a whole. At the $350/hour rate they agreed to charge, the total bill suggests that the firm has billed more than 2 and a half years of time to the case. Lets be generous and assume 10% of those billings are for reimbursement of expenses (those lunches don't come cheap). That brings the total expenditure of time to just below 2 and a half years. Even Ken Starr worked more efficiently than that.
It would certainly be interesting, and should be someone's job, to look over those billings and try to figure out how they could possibly come up with enough legitimate things to do to justify churning the file to that extent. Perhaps New Jersey could hire another law firm to look into it.