Saturday, March 6, 2010


Greenberg Traurig is this big ass firm, 1775 lawyers in 30 offices worldwide.  You know, Big Law. 

Well it turns out one of their lawyers, Mark J. McCombs, bilked a Chicago suburb out of a $1 million bucks through overbilling, according to the Chicago Tribune. Oooh, what a tale of Big Law woe.  This is from Matthew Walberg's article on tha case:

"Prosecutors alleged the veteran attorney abused long-standing professional and personal relationships with village officials to overbill the village by $1 million for work that was never performed. While McCombs did not pocket the money personally, Assistant State's Attorney John Mahoney argued that the thefts boosted McCombs' standing in the law firm and set him up for higher pay.

The scheme came to light last Dec. 31 when officials from Community School District 218, one of five governmental agencies that benefitted from five tax-increment finance districts in the tiny one-mile square suburb, grew suspicious about the lack of information given by McCombs in a presentation, prosecutors said.

When confronted with the alleged theft, McComb allegedly begged village officials to allow him to pay back some of the money out of his own pocket and warned them that his firm would tie the village up in expensive litigation if the matter was made public, according to a prosecution filing. Prosecutors said McCombs allegedly admitted to cooperating witnesses that he overbilled the village by $600,000 to $800,000, but authorities believe the amount was more than one million.

Mahoney asked Circuit Judge Ramon Ocasio III to set bond at $1 million cash, which would require McComb to post the full amount in order to be released from custody. He argued that McCombs' theft occurred at a time when District 218 and another elementary school district that relied on the TIF funds were 'near or on the verge of financial ruin'."
Think this is an isolated incident?  Guess again. 

McComb got caught and he compounded his mistake by stupidly letting his conscience kick in.  Big Law billing practices make small time Bad Lawyers look like charities.  When these operators get into your small governing entity watch out!  Big Law flies 1st class, and someone pays for it.


  1. Nice post. In the landscape of biglaw bad actors, this firm has a particularly well-earned reputation as a dirty operator.

  2. Thanks, anon. all credit to Matthew Walberg at the Trib., for a related-story check the New Yorker's profile of Mayor Daley in the Mar. 8 issue.

    Big Law is one of the last vestiges of the "trickle down" economy. Big Law vaccums up the dollars, populates the bench particularly at the appellate levels, and operates as the particular American-equivalent of the Yakuza crime syndicates.