As with many municipalities, the City of Upland, CA believes that in recent years there has been a lack of oversight in legal spending which could eventually land Upland in substantial debt or even bankruptcy.
In response to this challenge the City, plans to meet with its attorneys to review its billing guidelines and practices. The City’s Legal Sub-Committee will meet with its own attorney as well as the Los Angeles-based law firm, Richards Watson & Gershon, which has been paid almost $8 million in legal fees over the past decade. The purpose of the meeting will be to analyze and revise the current billing guidelines to ensure that taxpayer money is being used in an “efficient and responsible manner.”
The proposed guidelines will hopefully put pressure on Upland’s attorney to reduce legal costs to the city by imposing reasonable billing requirements. For example, before a case begins, a strategy and budget (including projected hours and costs) must be submitted and approved by the city. The city attorney will then be required to provide a written report on the status of the case every 90 days including any additional estimated costs. It will also be the responsibility of the city attorney to restrict the number of attorneys working on a case and to limit the amount billed without prior approval of the City Council. The city hopes that these proposals will rein in legal costs at various stages of future matters.