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Oregon Ethics Investigation: Legal Fees, Audits, and Cranky Law Librarians


As one of the many professional law librarians who negotiate contracts for legal database services and who show attorneys how to use them efficiently (to save time and their clients’ money!), when I read stories like this, I think almost as much about the “high costs of the ongoing investigation” and the ethics violations as I do about those high legal bills, i.e. has someone audited those legal bills?

One assumes so, but one (especially cranky law librarians) do have to ask the question (and heaven knows some of our tax-paying law library patrons ask).

I also know as well as the next law librarian that good legal counsel costs good money ….

Treasurer Ted Wheeler says legal costs of ethics investigation waste public money,” Lex Zaitz, The Oregonian, Friday, January 28, 2011

Excerpt: “The Oregon Treasury Department has spent more than $100,000 on lawyers to defend state investment officers against ethics violations that now have narrowed to allegations about $428 in travel costs.

Legal costs continue to mount as three officers face full investigations into their travel by the Oregon Government Ethics Commission. That investigation could stretch on for as long as six months.

Treasurer Ted Wheeler disclosed the costs in a letter Friday to Gov. John Kitzhaber.

“I assume taxpayers will be as outraged as I am about the high costs of this ongoing investigation,” Wheeler said….” (Link to full article.)

Legal auditing is a profession:

1) Legal Fee Auditing (Wikipedia)
2) National Association of Legal Fee Analysts (NALFA) and their blog.

(Note: Lawyers know that their law librarian clients expect good legal research skills and won’t pay for lousy research – in fact, some lawyers will ask their law librarian clients to do their own research in order to save money. But I bet law librarians are easier, or maybe just nicer, clients than other lawyers 🙂

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