City of Memphis Legal Bills

I have been investigating the City Attorney’s office and the increase in legal costs over the past few years. The budget for the City Attorney’s office, 2005 was $5.7 million and $15 million in 2010. A 263% increase. I am looking for an explanation.

I therefore asked for a list of personnel in the legal department and a list of outside part time attorneys. (See the attached list). Four of the attorneys are outside attorneys and are part time employees that work out of their own office but are paid a salary, not an hourly rate, for their work for the City. The benefit to them is the salary plus they are on the city pension system and are on the city health plan.

I have also attached a list of contracts for outside attorney firms and lobby firms that are hired on a contract basis. Some of these contracts have provisions that require some comments.

Law Offices of J. Michael Fletcher- This contract is for $96,000 per year ($8,000 per month)  to maintain a case load of 25 cases with assistance from the City Attorney’s Office.

Farris, Bobango & Branan, PLLC for a $60,000 fee.

Allan J. Wade, PLLC (attorney for the City Council and on the city pension system and health care system) has a rate at $275.00 per hour, somewhat higher than other firms. Total fees for 2006 through 2009 of $788,000.

Law Offices of Ricky E. Wilkins. See the attached list of legal fees to outside attorneys showing Wilkins with $823,000 for 2009 and $560,000 for 2008.

Law Offices of Julian Bolton, $50,000 for lobbying.

REJ & Associates, $204,000, lobbying in Nashville focusing on “directed spending” in state funds for City’s projects.

Finally I have attached a report of open cases from 7/1/2008 to 6/30/2010 showing file name and assigned attorney and the closed cases for the same period.

Conclusions. 1) We are a litigious society and people are always looking to sue someone with deep pockets hoping to hit the jackpot. 2) Certain well connected lawyers get the bulk of the work.

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