CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said his staff discovered "many areas of serious concern" upon taking office last month.
He said the Attorney General's Office lacked a centralized file management system and a conflict-of-interest reporting system for attorneys. Some offices did not have working voicemail accounts, and many employees had not received a personnel review for years.
"At present, there is no cohesive filing system to allow our employees to quickly identify and access needed documents. As a result, finding even the simplest of documents can often be a time-consuming process," he said.
He said the centralized system is essential for a functioning law office and is needed to help lawyers manage deadlines, conflicts of interest and billable hours.
On Wednesday's "Talkline," Morrisey told Hoppy Kercheval he has asked the office's attorneys to provide summaries of cases they are working on.
"It's as if there were 30 or 40 solo practitioners working in the office of the attorney general," he said on the radio program. "That's not how you run a law firm."
Morrisey also said the office previously relied on individual attorneys to manually report conflicts of interests. He said a centralized, computerized system is needed to operate in an "ethical and transparent manner."
Such a system is usually a law firm's first line of defense in avoiding legal malpractice, he said.
"Without a working conflicts check system, you can't effectively identify and avoid potential conflict-of-interest problems," he said.
He said he has spent his first weeks in office trying to fix those problems, although he said some of the solutions may take months and possibly as much as a year.
Fran Hughes, who served as deputy attorney general under Darrell McGraw's administration, said the office operated successfully for years without the systems Morrisey views as necessities.
Hughes said she does not criticize Morrisey's desire to upgrade the office's systems but McGraw's administration never received money for that from the Legislature.