The Devil's Advocate
Legal Fee Management & Litigation Consulting


Our 22nd Year  
Thanks to all our clients and friends  





What's unique about our legal fee management services?

Experienced: The Devil's Advocate has examined over $1 billion in legal bills from hundreds of firms, nationwide. In addition to our other consulting services, we can examine millions of dollars in fees per month and have the technology and resources to examine far more. Beyond simply skimming the bills, we bring additional insight and depth to our bill examination because of our litigation and legal management experience:

  • We have extensive trial practice experience.
  • We have extensive experience managing lawyers and legal fees, including experience from the lawyers' perspective.
  • We bring a multi-disciplinary team to each engagement, including lawyers and other specialists, as needed.
  • We can augment our team through joint ventures with large and small accounting firms and our own network of specialists, including practicing lawyers, law school professors, and accountants.

Authoritative: The Devil's Advocate is a nationally recognized authority on legal fee management and litigation consulting. It has been recognized by The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Business Week, Miami Herald, American Lawyer, National Law Journal, Legal Times, Inc. Magazine, Washington Business Journal, Entrepreneur, ABA Journal, and dozens more publications.

  • Devil's Advocate authored the official "white paper" on Managing Legal Services for the International City/County Management Association.
  • Our work for the U.S. Congress, General Accounting Office, and Department of Energy became part of the Congressional Record and was specially commended by Congressman Dingell.
  • Our work for the U.S. Congress, Department of Transportation, and Amtrak was the subject of a C-Span press conference (in which Mr. Toothman participated) and special thanks from Congressman Mica.
  • We have worked for companies in the Fortune 50, let alone the Fortune 500, insurance companies, large and small law firms, associations, labor unions, local government agencies, and individuals.
  • John Toothman, Esq., our president, has B.S. and M.S. degrees in Chemical Engineering from the University of Virginia and his J.D. from Harvard Law School, with many academic and professional honors and awards. He speaks regularly on legal fee management subjects to lawyers, accountants, business people, government officials, and others, and testifies as an expert on legal fees and related topics.
  • Mr. Toothman is the co-author of Trial Practice Checklists 2d (published by West Group) and of Legal Fees: Law & Management (Carolina Academic Press).
  • Mr. Toothman has published over 25 articles about legal fees and trial practice.
  • Mr. Toothman received the ABA's Ross Essay Award.

Honest:  We know what we're doing and we tell you what we see, whether it's what you want to hear or not.  We screen our engagements to avoid conflicts of interest and situations where our services are unlikely to be cost-effective.

  • Even when we're hired to conduct a review in support of a bill, we use the same methods and flag the same things we would normally flag anyway.
  • Unlike some bill reviewers (especially those working, for example, in some bankruptcy courts and for debtors' counsel), our reports are thorough, honest, and real.  There are, unfortunately, some firms claiming to review or even "audit" legal bills, but their reviews are not real or honest.  Instead, a cursory review, with a proposed trivial adjustment less than the cost of their "review," is used to deflect criticism from creditors, the press, and the public.  If you're looking for a fake review or you just want to rent our name and reputation, you've come to the wrong place.

Cost-Effective: Devil's Advocate gets results for its clients, at a reasonable cost.  Rather than imposing a "one size fits all" approach on every engagement, we instead fit our services to the client's budget and to the situation. Our services often cost less than the copying and computerized legal research services we find in the bills we are examining.

Comprehensive: Instead of focusing exclusively on the face of the legal bills alone, running each through the same cookie-cutter process, Devil's Advocate can also review work product, correspondence, and retention agreements to gain a better understanding of the circumstances in which the bill arose.

  • In addition to enhancing the value of our bill reviews, this tailored, comprehensive approach allows us to analyze performance, work product quality, strategy and tactics, and staffing, thereby turning a narrow bill review into a comprehensive performance audit.
  • As often happens with those firms with the most to hide, law firms may try to stonewall -- even when they owe ethical and professional duties to their clients -- we can work with whatever information becomes available.
  • Our comprehensive approach is also manifested by the additional services we provide beyond basic bill reviews: Devil's Advocate consults with clients at every step of the legal process, including selection of counsel, retention agreements, budgets and plans, fee and strategy/tactics monitoring, second opinions, alternative fee design, and fee dispute resolution.
  • Integrated management of performance as well as fees is our goal.

Constructive: We look for opportunities to avoid problems before they fester.  For example, through careful law firm selection, "client-friendly" retention agreements, and early monitoring, our clients can avoid over-staffing and wasteful habits or nip them in the bud.

  • This not only saves our clients money, but avoids high stakes fee disputes in which careers or firms may be in jeopardy.
  • To preserve the relationship with the law firm, many clients prefer to have us work behind the scenes until it becomes appropriate or necessary to introduce us to the law firm.
  • Our reasoned analysis, reputation, and experience can resolve even the most inflammatory disputes.

Automated: Devil's Advocate makes full use of sophisticated technology.  While we can handle data in almost any form (even bills handwritten on note cards) or establish a reasonable fee based on benchmarks without time records of any kind, we also have the state of the art electronic tools to scan, convert ("OCR"), and analyze bills quickly and accurately.

Professional: The Devil's Advocate is not a law firm, but lawyers often work for us.  Our professional standards are high, as is our work product quality.  An added consideration is that we adhere to professional standards with regard to the confidentiality of our communications and work product.

Independent: Unlike many bill review companies that are owned or controlled by major insurance companies -- whether they disclose their affiliation or not -- Devil's Advocate is completely independent.

  • We are also independent from the law firms and clients we work with -- again unlike some other bill reviewers.
  • Devil's Advocate's independence from its clients helps it to resolve billing disputes through its unbiased approach to bill examination.
  • We can act as independent monitors, mediators, or arbitrators when in-house personnel or captive bill reviewers (identified closely with the client) would never do.  We can also serve as court-appointed experts or special masters.
  • We are retained both to support and challenge legal fees, another demonstration of our independence.
  • The only "side" we're on is the side of the reasonable legal fee.


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Last update: 01/07/15

Established 1993

Our 22nd Year  Civilian's Guide to Lawyers (the Blog)

For more information, contact our Marketing Director,
Elizabeth McGee
The Devil's Advocate, PO Box 8, Great Falls, Virginia 22066 (USA)
Phone: (703) 684-6996 * Fax: (202) 499-7011 * E-mail: Devil's Advocate

Conditions for site use & important notices
The Devil's Advocate is a registered trademark, and Independent Counsel, Civilian's Guide to Lawyers, the Client-Friendly Billing Agreement, and the Client Bill of Rights™ are trademarks of The Devil's Advocate or licensed to DA.
All materials in this web-site copyright January, 2015 by The Devil's Advocate (licensed to Devil's Advocate, LLC a/k/a TLF Consulting). All rights reserved.
We do not provide legal advice by e-mail or through this site.  We do not provide legal representation.  All DA engagements must be in writing.
The information in this website represents our opinions (or opinions of others) and is believed to be accurate, but we cannot guarantee that they apply to your situation.

Visit Devil's Advocate for legal fee management and litigation consulting, including legal bill reviews, expert testimony, legal malpractice, and lawyer ethics issues

keywords: The Devil's Advocate, John Toothman (founder), legal fee management, litigation consulting, trial lawyers, legal fee analysis, controlling legal costs, legal cost control, lawyer cost management, legal expense management, alternative legal fees, trial practice, civil litigation, discovery, American Rule, client, lawyer, legal fees, attorney fees, hiring lawyers, attorneys, expert witness, expert testimony, lawyer bill, legal fee invoices, litigation management, fee petitions, bankruptcy, legal bill audit, legal bill review, fee shifting, prevailing party, legal expenses, second opinions, monitoring counsel, legal fee budgets, legal fee estimates, legal malpractice, audit legal bills, general counsel, independent counsel, hourly rates, hourly fees.

Publications include: To Get Paid, Get Reasonable, Trial Practice Checklists (West Group); Legal Fees: Law and Management (Carolina Academic Press), CGL, Civilian's Guide to Lawyers, Client Bill of Rights, Client-friendly billing agreement, hourly fees.

Headquarters in Great Falls, Northern Virginia, USA, in the Metropolitan Washington DC (District of Columbia) area.