Attorney Bills

Warning: If you request several months worth of legal bills with detail billing, you may get hit with a “special service” fee for the labor required to make the redactions. Consider breaking requests for these records into smaller requests.

Governments hire attorneys for all for all sorts of legal matters. In many instances, a local government may end up hiring several law firms, with each firm covering a certain area of expertise. In many municipalities it’s not unusual to have separate attorneys for general legal matters, collective bargaining & labor relations and another for land use matters.

You can get an idea of what kinds of work a law firm is doing for a government agency by requesting copies of legal bills. If you are simply looking to get the amounts of money that are being paid to a certain law firm each month, a vendor history report would probably do the job instead.

Legal bills are often a valuable source of information because they can reveal the identities of individuals involved in current or potential litigation against public entities. Along this vein, law firms often have attorney-client privileged information on detail billing that will need to be redacted. For this reason, it is best to have requests for legal bills be in as narrow of a timeframe as possible, such as requesting one month at a time, in order to avoid getting hit with “special service” fees.

Example requests

The following are example requests made for this type of record on OPRAmachine: