A recent Law.com by Alaina Lancaster, “Proskauer Rose Legal Malpractice Suit Claims Firm Charged ‘Excessive and Unconscionable’ Fees in Trustee Dispute,” reports that Proskauer Rose allegedly billed siblings embroiled in litigation over a family trust millions of dollars after initially estimating that their fees would total $100,000 or less, according to a legal malpractice suit filed May 5.
The suit, surfaced by Law.com Radar and filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, claims Proskauer Rose and Andrew M. Katzenstein, a partner in the firm’s private client services department, engaged in unnecessary and excessive work and improper billing practices, such as block billing and charging “unearned, unreasonable, excessive, and unconscionable fees,” according to the complaint. Trustees Sharyl Gabriel and Susan Louise Gabriel-Potter claim that Proskauer Rose also overstaffed the underlying trust disputes involving their brother Robert Gabriel, additionally inflating costs.
The suit—filed by Makarem & Associates’ Ronald Makarem and Samuel Almon in Los Angeles—also asserts that the firm assigned attorneys who were not licensed in California to perform legal services in the litigation. The filing alleges that Proskauer partner Matthew Triggs in Boca Raton, Florida, and Bridget Devoy—a former associate at the firm in Los Angeles who is now a counsel at McDermott Will & Emery—were tapped to work on the underlying matter without being licensed in California. The suit asserts Devoy wasn’t licensed in California until May 14, 2018, but worked on the matter in 2017.
The lawsuit also alleges that the firm improperly advised the trustees on several matters, including guiding them to pay excessive distributions to Robert from the trusts. “This advice was below the standard of care because, among other reasons, the distributions were not legally required, and were used by Robert to wage litigation against parties including Plaintiffs, which in turn caused Plaintiffs to incur damages, including legal fees incurred defending the litigation brought by Robert,” the complaint said.