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Lawmakers Seek to Probe Amtrak Bills
Justice Department Asked To Look at Law Firm Conduct

Legal Times
December 11, 2006; Page 1

By Anna Palmer

© Copyright 2006 Legal Times

A House committee broadened its investigation into government-subsidized train operator Amtrak’s legal department and its outside legal counsel last week, calling for the Justice Department to investigate possible illegal activities. ...

Manatt first came under scrutiny in an unredacted copy of legal_audit expert John Toothman’s report, obtained by Legal Times in early November. (A redacted copy was released by the committee in October). Toothman’s report found that Manatt’s billing was "overall, the worst observed, with heavy staffing, attempts to pass off clerical/overhead as billable, failure to follow basic guidelines and heavy expenses." The firm also benefited after one of its former partners, Marylin Milner, went to work in Amtrak’s general counsel’s office. As associate general counsel, she directly supervised her former firm’s Amtrak work....

Young and Mica’s letter to Weiderhold specifies several discrepancies with Manatt’s bills related to nonlegal work, miscellaneous billing, and large copying expenses.

"Our office policy is not to confirm or deny any potential ongoing investigations," says Hamilton Peterson, the lead investigator for the legal audit by Amtrak’s inspector general.

Audit expert Toothman says he had substantial concern about the use and timing of Manatt’s side agreements and how legal work was transferred to the firm.

"Manatt also had some pretty unusual terms [for] expenses that they were not limited to actual cost on expenses, but whatever they defined as a standard expense," says Toothman. ...


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