Gun Group’s Massive Legal Bills Add to Turmoil

  • The National Rifle Association, roiled by infighting and near-constant swirling controversy, suffers from profligate spending, per report
  • Among the biggest category of spend? Unchecked legal billing

Last Thursday, The New York Times published a startling report from Danny Hakim documenting the continued fallout surrounding power struggles and unchecked spending within the National Rifle Association. This is on top of the mounting scandals for the gun rights group.

The fight is rooted in disagreements over the future of the gun rights advocacy organization, especially as it relates to behavior of its longtime CEO Wayne LaPierre. Reports surfaced that LaPierre unsuccessfully requested the organization buy him a $6 million Dallas mansion, and billed contractors for items such as bespoke suits and his wife’s makeup

What caught our eye was one of the biggest areas of spend: legal bills. LaPierre had recently fired longtime outside counsel Charles J. Cooper, galvanizing allies of the attorney.

The documents reviewed by The Times also show the extent to which a second rivalry was brewing, between Mr. Cooper and William A. Brewer III, a Democrat whom Mr. LaPierre had hired a year earlier. Mr. Brewer ascended quickly and began getting all of the significant legal work, including several congressional and state inquiries.
[LaPierre foe Oliver] North has said that Mr. Brewer’s bills were “draining N.R.A. cash at mind-boggling speed.” But Mr. Cooper is also expensive, charging $1,350 an hour, compared with $1,400 for Mr. Brewer, people with knowledge of the billing said.

While the details of the squabble are fascinating, a deeper point remains: legal billing best practices. Has anyone at NRA asked if $1,350 per hour in legal billing should be considered acceptable?

Unfortunately for the NRA, wringing hands can’t lower legal bills.

At Bodhala, the leading tech platform enabling corporate legal teams to analyze and optimize their spend, we built a one-of-a-kind data set that employs machine learning to provide general counsels and CFOs with transparency around not only the what of their legal spend, but the why.

We’ve found that with our clients, and almost certainly as is the case with the NRA, few have the tools necessary to understand the real value of the spend, or why. Bodhala changes that equation. 

Are you a legal department officer asking why your bills got so high, so fast? Contact us at [email protected] and let’s talk about how we help you avoid the pitfalls we see in stories like this every day.


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