For you GCs in the audience:  how is it possible for this to happen? How is it possible a firm can spend that much money and you don’t know the detail of what the firm is doing? On a matter of this importance, where the fee is going to be large, you would have a detailed discussion with outside counsel about what work would be done, who would be doing it and how much it would cost. And when bills suggested outside counsel wasn’t following the game plan, a discussion would ensue. I just don’t understand.

For the private practitioners out there, same story, different questions.  How is it possible you would let a client be surprised by your fees on a matter of this size and importance?  Given the scale of the document review, how could you have avoided a detailed conversation about alternative ways to approach the review, the cost of each and the quality issues involved?  I just don’t understand.

Seriously, I am not asking these questions rhetorically.  Obviously I’ve missed something in my 26 years of private practice, and since I’ve never been an inside lawyer, I am missing out on insights that experience may have provided.  I invite comments.

ADDENDUM:  Who says we lawyers are not in danger of becoming a caricature of ourselves?  From the irreverent blog, Above the Law, this take on one aspect of the suit:

Martin Rose, the Dallas lawyer representing McAfee in the fee dispute, alleges in his latest complaint that WilmerHale, which brought in East Coast lawyers to represent Goyal in a San Francisco trial, charged almost $200,000 in expenses for luxury hotel rooms, limousines and charges for room service and bar tabs. The software company described WilmerHale as "unrepentant in its greed."

C’mon, Mr. Rose, you’re a lawyer, you know better — drop the faux indignation. We’re talking Biglaw. This is how they roll.

(Seriously, for a case that went to trial, $200K in expenses does not seem unreasonable. Sometimes firms take over an entire luxury hotel in connection with a trial. Don’t expect them to stay at the Motel 6.)