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March 23, 2010 10:56 AM

Greenberg Traurig Repays $3.2 Million in Legal Fees

Posted by Brian Baxter

Greenberg Traurig has agreed to pay a Chicago suburb $3.2 million after state prosecutors charged former government affairs partner Mark McCombs with inflating legal bills earlier this month, reports the Southtown Star. (Hat Tip: ABA Journal.)

The Am Law Daily previously reported on the theft of services charges levied against McCombs, who joined the firm in September 2002. McCombs served as economic development counsel, special village attorney for investigations, and administrative hearing officer for Calumet Park, a southeast suburb of Chicago.

Burt Odelson, an attorney for Calumet Park and name partner at local firm Odelson & Sterk, told the Southtown Star that "this is a repayment for all of the attorney's fees back to 2002." In a previous story by the same newspaper, Odelson estimated that only about 10 percent of the fees billed by McCombs billed were legitimate.

A Greenberg spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment. Paul Fox, co-managing partner of the firm's Chicago office, told the Southtown Star that Greenberg acted quickly to right a wrong.

"The only silver lining in any of this for us is that money is going back to people who need it," Fox said. "We're helping a community and some school districts. We thought that the appropriate thing to do was return all the fees."

Calumet Park and the firm reached an agreement last week on the repayment of fees. Greenberg agreed to refund the village for work that McCombs claimed to have performed.

"Greenberg Traurig made things right as soon as it became aware of the problem," Calumet Park Mayor Joseph DuPar said in a statement released by the village. "We believe everyone, including the law firm, was deceived by McCombs. They are doing the right thing and helping a community that needs the help."

McCombs, 50, a Calumet Park native who once had a street in the village named after him because of the work he did for the community, now faces between six and 30 years in prison after being charged with theft of government services in excess of $100,000.

McCombs immediately resigned from his position advising Calumet Park and was almost immediately terminated by Greenberg after a quick internal investigation. Michael Gillespie, the son of noted Chicago criminal defense lawyer Terry Gillespie, is representing McCombs.

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