The New York Daily News has a story up today in which they try to paint Alex Rodriguez as a deadbeat for unpaid legal fees. Specifically, they have a source telling them that “A-Rod hasn’t paid millions of dollars in legal bills he owes.” Even more specifically “Rodriguez has paid some of the bills, the source said, but he still owes his attorneys and private investigators as much as $3 million for the work they did.”
Setting aside for a moment that that construction — “he has paid some of what he owes but not all, so he may be a deadbeat” — could apply to every person with a car payment and a mortgage, this is beyond silly. Multi-million dollar legal bills are not like your electric bill. They’re not typically turned around ASAP lest you start getting late notices. There is always negotiation about specifics of the charges. At least if the client is being prudent there is.
Giant corporations review their bills because — this may be a shocker to you — not everything that appears on an attorney’s bill is always legitimate. Indeed, a big reason businesses get into trouble is simply cutting checks to their attorneys without scrutiny or negotiation for whatever the attorneys say is charged. That’s how double billing and all manner of attorney shenanigans happens. And that’s from even the most respectable attorneys. If I got a bill from Joe Tacopina, I’d be inclined to go over it a bit.
A-Rod dropped his case against Major League Baseball on February 7. It’s now March 20. If he was given a final bill for services after that it’d probably be no more than a month or so since he received it. To butcher a quote, A-Rod is not just a businessman, he’s a business, man. If he doesn’t have someone close to him whose job it is to make sure he’s not getting fleeced, he’s doing it wrong. And while A-Rod does a lot wrong, parting with his money willy-nilly doesn’t seem like one of them.
But I suppose that’s all just speculation. Let’s see what the attorneys who are allegedly being stiffed say:
In a statement to The News, Tacopina denied he has had problems collecting his fee from Rodriguez.
“I have absolutely no fee dispute whatsoever with Alex,” Tacopina said. “He has been entirely fair and responsible with respect to the payment of my fees.”
Hmm. Maybe it was one of his other lawyers:
Cornwell declined to comment for this story. Reed Smith partners Jordan Siev and James McCarroll, and Davis, did not return requests for comment.
Rodriguez also allegedly owes money to Guidepost Solutions, the private investigation firm that worked for Rodriguez last year. A Guidepost spokeswoman said the firm had no comment.
I have no doubt that A-Rod has not remitted his outstanding legal fees in full. But at this point in any case Microsoft, General Electric and Exxon-Mobil hasn’t paid outstanding legal bills either. He paid a retainer early or else these guys whouldn’t have lifted a finger. As the Daily News itself notes he has paid some amount of the bills, which suggests that he paid monthly bills as they rolled in. There is likely some haggling going on and maybe a bit of foot-dragging occurring over the final balance. Haggling and foot-dragging the likes of which occurs in every single case of size ever. News flash: people hate paying lawyers.
But hey, if it gives the Daily News yet another chance to paint A-Rod as a terrible awful monster, no need to dwell on these sorts of details.