Monday, September 9, 2013

With 270 attorneys on staff at the City of Chicago Law Department why spend money 
on outside legal counsel?

There are approximately a total of 450 public employees in this department earning $32 Million in payroll (not including pension & healthcare benefits) yet work is still being awarded on a sole source wired basis to connected law firms. 

Estimates of outside legal fees to 24 of these select firms totals well over $100 Million.

For example, Shefsky & Froelich billed over $11 Million from 2006 to June, 2012. In 2012 alone, Shefsky submitted 9313 separate invoices for only 6 months work! Multiple attorneys are assigned to tasks at $250 to $295 per hour; in-house attorney's payroll would result in zero additional cost since it is simply a matter of assigning these cases during the daily workload. A staff attorney earning $75,000 would have a billable hourly rate of $36.05. A senior attorney earning $110,000 has a billable hourly rate of $52.88. Simple second grade arithmetic indicates a ratio of 4.72 hours production using in-house staff vs. 1 hour of outside counsel. 

270 attorneys attended law school and have garnered some experience in practice. Research at these named outside firms is not provided by the the lead partners but certainly by clerical and junior attorneys.  We do not believe that in-house counsel is inept and cannot adequately handle the workload!

In 2011 Stephen Patton announced that he would streamline best practices in the Law Department and would bring the work in-house.

We call upon Patton to publish the details of outside work performed vs. in-house assignments since his tenure began and seek accountability and transparency to determine if he has kept his promise to maximize taxpayer dollars and reduce dependence on patronage law firms.

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