Attorneys’ fee awards, Prevailing Parties and Reasonable Fee Awards!

Attorneys’ fees are often a huge point of contention in a lawsuit, especially, in consumer and employment law areas.  Often fee shifting provisions are utilized to negotiate concessions from opposing parties.  However, understanding how fee petitions are awarded by courts is crucial to litigating these disputes, advising business owners, individuals, employers, employees, collection agencies and consumers. 

A court will look at the following factors: 1) the nature of the law and the expertise required; 2) the local rates of attorneys specializing in that area of law; 3) the use of multiple attorneys; 3) the complexity of the task performed by the billing attorneys; 4) the amount of recovery obtained for the client; 5) the efficient use of paralegals or administrative staff; 6) the number of conferences and attorney meetings; and 7) the length of the litigation. 

In a recent opinion, the 7th Circuit, affirmed a district courts award of $6500 in fees, based on the following findings: 1) four attorneys were used, when one attorney with a billing $260 could have performed the work; 2) duplicative tasks were performed by attorneys with a billing rate of $425 and $375; 3) the lawsuit was resolved in a matter of months; 4) $6500 seemed roughly proportional to the amount recovered for the Plaintiffs under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA); and 5) the courts determination that the proffered evidence did not justify the billing rates claims by Plaintiffs’ attorneys. 

See:  Fee_7th_Schlacher_0809.  If you have any concerns or questions regarding the attorneys’ fee matters, then please feel free to contact us.

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