When it comes to business cards, the Fairfax law firm Odin Feldman Pittleman has gone digital.

Beginning this month, the firm’s 55 attorneys have the option of adding a “Quick Response Code” that can transmit information via bar code scanners and camera phones. The idea is that QR codes provide a pain-free route to move names, addresses and other printed information onto smartphones. Though commonplace in Europe and Asia, the practice is only recently making waves in the United States.

Technology and e-commerce attorney Jonathan D. Frieden got the idea from a friend who works in the real estate development business. Frieden recognized the QR Code as the same thing he’d seen at the end of printed magazine articles, where it allows a reader to quickly pull up the same story on a mobile device.

Frieden realized how useful — and easy — it would be to use the codes in his practice after adding a sticker to the back of his business card. Now the option will be offered firm-wide.

“The only additional cost is now there will be the cost of printing both sides,” Frieden said.

TARP audit criticizes Venable’s billing practices

An audit of Troubled Asset Relief Program contractors released last week criticizes the law firm Venable for providing insufficiently detailed bills for its services.

In the 35-page report released last Thursday, the Office of the Special Inspector General for TARP said that Venable submitted invoices for $1.4 million in work that did not provide adequate information about the firm’s timekeepers. The report raised the possibility that similar problems could be found if a review were conducted of invoices submitted by Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft; Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell; McKee Nelson (now a part of Bingham McCutchen); and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. The five firms have collectively made more than $27 million off of TARP-related legal work.

“Venable fully cooperated with the Treasury Department’s reporting requirements and SIGTARP’s review,” a firm spokesman said. “We are confident that Treasury received fair value for the services that we provided.”

Budget cuts legal services funding

The budget deal passed by Congress last week cuts the annual budget for Legal Services Corp. by $15.8 million.

The nonprofit group, which distributes funds to 136 independent nonprofits that provide legal assistance to low-income populations, will receive $404.2 million in 2011, down from $420 million in 2010. The group estimates the nonprofit legal centers it funds will be receiving 4 percent less as a result of the budget cuts.