Does the City of Shreveport need to have a legal billing auditor? — OPINION

The City of Shreveport is paying a lot of money for lawyers. Should an auditor make sure the city is getting it's money's worth? Columnist John Settle weighs in on this matter.

Last year the city of Shreveport spent more than $1 million in fees for attorneys representing the city.

The top fees paid were to Abrams & Lafargue ($298 grand), Edwin Byrd ($281 grand), Nicole Buckle ($161 grand), and Jennifer McKay ($111 grand). Abrams & Lafargue and Edwin Byrd were also paid the most in legal fees for 2017 and 2016.

Reginald Abrams is also the attorney for the Caddo Parish School Board. His legal fees for the last 3 years have averaged more than $300 thousand per year.
 
Although the break down between Adams and Lafargue is not known. Lafargue performed most of the firm’s services for the city. Nonetheless, the fees are substantial when viewed on our hourly basis.

The city pays $125 per hour.

Doing the math, $298 grand equates to 2384 hours. That works out to be 45 hours a week–for 52 weeks a year. Put another way, that is over 6 hours a day for a 7 day work week.

Unlike the city billing, Abrams does all the work for the school board. A $300 thousand dollar tab equals 2400 hours. That is 46 hours a week, 52 weeks a year. Using a 7 day workweek, that equates to 6.5 hours a day. This assumes an hourly rate of $125.

Byrd’s legal bills probably include expenses. Using $250 thousand as a benchmark, that would equate 2000 billable hours. That’s an average of 38 hours a week for the entire year. This works out to be over 5 hours a day for a 7 day work week.

The city attorney’s office is responsible for approving legal invoices. Due to the office workload and experience of the attorneys, this is a major task.

Most insurance companies and many Fortune 500 companies utilize third party companies to review their attorney fees. These companies work on a flat rate, a percentage of the gross fees reviewed, or a contingency fee (percentage of total fees reviewed.)

These observations are just that. So, please do not shoot the messenger.