Monday, August 6, 2018

Jeff Chiow’s Legal Fees: A Problem in the Offing?

Are you a member of Grace Episcopal Church? Concerned about the 2019 budget and how you’ll pay for the  HVAC project, repaving the parking lot, maintenance of the stained glass, refurbishment of the elevator, and replacement of the faux slate roof? If so, you may also be concerned about your legal bills.

Per Jeff Chiow, the value of his legal fees to date in this dispute amounts to approximately $100,000, and he appears to be contemplating at least another $25,000 in legal fees.

Of course, I can’t know whether he actually is charging the parish these fees. And they seem extraordinarily high for a case that, at most, involves about 100 hours of work so far; that would suggest Jeff’s going rate is $1,000 an hour. An unusual rate, to be sure, for an attorney who does not appear to do trial work.

I surely hope he is not charging the parish, but it may be appropriate to make reasonable inquiry into these claims. An unexpected bill from Jeff Chiow would certainly make for major disruption to church finances.

Of course, it may also be, if there is a paying client in all of this, that Bob Malm personally is footing the bill behind the scenes. But knowing Bob, that seems improbable.

In any event, this is not a situation in which one wants to be surprised.