ICYMI: Taxpayers Face "High Price Tag" For Law Firm To Defend Healey

BOSTON - Attorney General Maura Healey has spared no expense as she spends taxpayer resources to defend herself in an out-of-state case. The Boston Herald reported today that Healey's office has already "shelled out $44,000 and counting to a high-powered Texas law firm a judge dubbed the 'most expensive' in the Dallas area" to defend her interests in a politically prominent case.  

High price tag for defense of AG in suit by Exxon Mobil
By Matt Stout and Brian Dowling

Attorney General Maura Healey’s office has shelled out $44,000 and counting to a high-powered Texas law firm a judge dubbed the “most expensive” in the Dallas area as she fights an order to appear in the Lone Star State over her probe of Exxon Mobil. 

Healey’s growing legal bill to McKool Smith dates back to at least July, when the firm first notified the Texas federal court they were on the case. That includes lead attorney Douglas Cawley, whom one trade publication crowned a “litigation star” in his field, according to ­McKool Smith’s website. 

The rates for individual McKool Smith lawyers could not be determined, but its founding partner, Mike McKool, reportedly charges $1,050 an hour, according to a 2015 story in the Houston Chronicle.

“McKool Smith is known on what I see locally as the most expensive law firm and the most successful — one of the successful firms,” U.S. District Court Judge Ed Kinkeade said on a conference call with attorneys in a lawsuit Exxon Mobil brought against Healey, according to a transcript filed with court documents yesterday.

On the same call, Cawley said he’d “love to agree with the second half” of Kinkeade’s statement, before indicating that McKool Smith — which employs 185 attorneys across eight offices around the country — is giving Healey’s office a discount.

“I’d say maybe we’re not the most expensive, after getting through negotiating with the state of Massachusetts,” Cawley said.

A spokeswoman for ­Healey wouldn’t say how much McKool Smith is charging her office an hour, but her office stressed that local rules in Texas federal court required it to hire a local attorney in order to file pleadings and appear in court over the lawsuit.

McKool Smith has advised Healey’s office on “local procedures and the substantive law in Texas,” and the AG’s office has tapped money it’s recovered through litigation, and “not direct taxpayer funds,” to cover the roughly $44,000 it’s paid so far, her spokeswoman said.

A spokesman for McKool Smith did not return multiple emails last night seeking comment on what they are charging per hour.
Exxon sued Healey in Texas to block her probe into whether the oil giant has been deceiving consumers and investors about the environmental hazards of fossil fuel for decades. Kinkeade ordered Healey to report to Texas Dec. 13 to answer whether her subpoena was politically motivated.

Healey pushed back on the judge’s order, claiming it takes “exceptional circumstances” to demand an official of her stature be deposed. But Exxon’s federal court filing yesterday slammed her arguments against the court-ordered deposition as “unpersuasive when first made and have not become more cogent with repetition.”