In a heated dispute between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General and the Philadelphia Housing Authority over the use of outside lawyers, some of Philadelphia’s largest law firms have been put on the defensive over rates, billing practices and alleged overstaffing of matters related to the more than $30 million the PHA spent in legal fees between 2007 and 2010.

By most accounts, the hourly rates charged by these law firms were a good deal for work by some of the city’s top lawyers, but a recent audit report by HUD’s Office of Inspector General has suggested the firms didn’t always provide detailed billing for the work they did and that the PHA had a number of lawyers working on the same matter. (You can view the audit here.)