The Firms

July 31, 2009 9:22 AM

Bingham Seeks $760K in Fee Dispute, Client Calls Bills "Excessive"

Posted by Francesca Heintz

Another day, another fee dispute.

The New York Law Journal's Nate Raymond wrote Thursday about a months-long disagreement between Bingham McCutchen and longtime client Capital Properties Associates over unpaid legal fees.

Earlier this month, Bingham filed an arbitration claim against Capital, a company it has represented for 25 years. The firm is seeking $760,000 in billings for litigation it handled between Capital and Connecticut state agencies over a retail and housing development project. Capital has since filed a petition to stay the arbitration in Manhattan Supreme Court, calling Bingham's past fees "excessive."

According to the NYLJ, the skirmish dates back to October 2008 when Capital's founder, Richard Cohen, emailed Bingham noting his concern about the firm's fees. (Bingham already had billed about $3 million for the Connecticut litigation, according to Capital.)

According to court documents, Cohen questioned the bills, saying "the billings on the project have been on auto-pilot" and "that the vast majority of time is therefore in question."

Capital demanded a discount and also asked the firm to place restrictions on staffing, insisting that no senior partners work on the litigation and that only one Bingham lawyer be on conference calls or attend court appearances. Bingham and Capital eventually worked out their disagreements orally and in November the company paid the firm $775,000 to settle past bills, according to the court documents.

But by early 2009, Bingham and Capital's relationship started to deteriorate again and in April the company hired Bracewell & Giuliani to handle the Connecticut litigation. (Bracewell also is advising Capital on its fee dispute with Bingham.) In May, Bingham stopped all work for Capital with more than $760,000 in fees outstanding.

Read the full NYLJ story here.

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