Massachusetts Attorney Nissenbum Ordered to Return $328,771 in Attorney Fees

Legal malpractice is when an attorney breaches his or her duty to the client causing damages. Overbilling, on the other hand, is often considered the cousin of legal malpractice. In a recent notorious case, Judge Stephen Steinberg of the Probate and Family Court, issued a 33 page detailed decision criticizing Massachusetts attorneys Gerald Nissenbaum and James Vera for billing an estate almost $500,000.

The judge considered the attorneys “egregious behavior” and considered the fees “outrageous” Furthermore, when the grieving widow sought new counsel to seek a reduction in fees, Attorneys Nissenbaum and Vera resorted to “bullying tactics aimed at dissuading [the] wife from retaining counsel. I’ve never seen anything like this,” said new counsel for the wife, former Superior Court Judge Owen Todd.
Our legal malpractice intakes are filled with clients who were clearly overbilled by their attorneys. The problem often is that there the bill is insufficient to warrant paying a second lawyer. In the above example, the bill was considerable. In a divorce or bankruptcy case, where they may very well be over billing, the amount may be less or equal to the cost of retrieving the monies.
On the other hand, it is always advisable to ask the attorney for an itemized bill, to review the bill, and to discuss any discrepancies or misunderstanding about the bill. Most attorneys will gladly do this and most times, after such a review is undertaken, the bill is worked out immediately.