Sandra Emerson, Staff Writer
Created: 03/04/2012 01:57:06 PM PST

UPLAND – The city’s Legal Sub-Committee will be meeting with city attorneys to review billing guidelines to mitigate continuously increasing legal fees.

The City Council discussed the city’s legal costs last week during a closed session meeting and decided to have the subcommittee meet with City Attorney William Curley and law firm, Richards Watson & Gershon.

“I wanted to assure that we are working closely as a council to scrutinize and make sure that taxpayer money is being used in a very efficient and responsible manner,” Councilman Brendan Brandt said.

Brandt is a member of the subcommittee.

The city has paid its law firm, Los Angeles-based Richards Watson & Gershon, about $7.9 million since June 2003.

The Legal Sub-Committee has been working with City Manager Stephen Dunn on revised billing guidelines, said Councilman Gino Filippi, who is a member of the subcommittee.

“This is a priority,” Filippi said.

The guidelines, if approved by the City Council, will require the city attorney:

To complete a case analysis, strategy and budget consisting of hours and costs before any work proceeds.

To limit the hourly amount billed without prior approval of the City Council, such as if legal work is done for an hourly rate higher than the rate identified.

To provide a written report to the City Council every 90 days on the status of the case including additional estimated

To seek city manager approval if legal work under the retainer exceeds 10 percent of the normal retainer costs.

To restrict the number of attorneys working on a case.

Curley said in an email that the firm has continually strived to reduce the costs to the city whenever possible.

“We are always respectful of the economic circumstances facing public agencies in today’s very difficult economic environment,” he said.

“We will work closely with the City Council and give serious and careful consideration to their proposals and we know they will responsibly balance all of the interests involved.”

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