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Holland & Knight Ex-Partner Accused of Bill Padding
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Richie RichEdward Ryan, a former partner at Holland & Knight’s Chicago office, has been charged with inflating legal fees on a multimillion-dollar lawsuit.

The Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission accuses Ryan, 65, of billing fraud against client Pinnacle, a Midwestern home builder, in a copyright-infringement lawsuit. Ryan denies the allegations.

It is nearly impossible for a client to detect if a lawyer charges for too many hours. While bill padding is believed to be quite common, known cases of billing fraud don’t amount to more than a handful a year.

  
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A junior lawyer at Holland & Knight, Matthew Farmer, reported his ethical concerns about Ryan’s billing practices to the disciplinary commission in 2005, after partners dismissed his concerns. Farmer left Holland & Knight in 2005.

Holland & Knight’s said in 2006 that the billing was “reasonable and appropriate.”

The firm and Ryan’s attorney declined to comment on Ryan’s departure in October. At one time, Ryan was executive partner of the Chicago office, which Holland & Knight opened in 2000 when it acquired 40-lawyer Burke Weaver & Prell.

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Pinnacle, known as Town & Country Homes in Chicago, was founded by Ryan’s brother, William Ryan. In August 2002, Ryan oversaw a suit against Pinnacle in a Minneapolis federal court.

The disciplinary commission found discrepancies between the firm’s internal electronic billing records and the bills sent to Pinnacle. The commission said the total time billed to the client was inflated by nearly 2,000 hours. Other lawyers accurately recorded the time they spent on the case.



Via Chicago Tribune.



 

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