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News Blog

Archive: 2017

Top NALFA Headlines of 2017

December 29, 2017

NALFA had another successful year in 2017.  Here are the top ten news blog headlines on NALFA in 2017:

Nation’s Top Attorney Fee Experts of 2017

NALFA Conducts Custom Hourly Rate Surveys

Earn a Certificate in Reasonable Attorney Fees

National Law Journal Cites NALFA Program

NALFA Quoted in ALM’s Daily Business Review

What are Best Practices in Outside Legal Fee Analysis?

NALFA’s Fee Dispute Mediation Program Achieves 86% Success Rates

NALFA Hosts CLE Program with Sitting Federal Judges

NALFA: Some Class Counsel Turn to Fee Experts When Seeking Fees

NALFA Hosts Podcast Series on Attorney Fee Issues

Class of 2017: Certificate in Reasonable Attorney Fees

December 28, 2017

NALFA offers a Certificate in Reasonable Attorney Fees, the nation’s first and only certificate of its kind.  We'd like to welcome our inaugural class.  Individuals who've earn this designation now qualify for NALFA fellowship.  NALFA congratulates the following individuals who’ve recently completed a curriculum on reasonable attorney fees and proper legal billing practices:

George F. Indest
The Health Law Firm PA
Altamonte Springs, FL

Glenn Newberry
Eversheds Sutherland LLP
London, UK

W. Bruce Anderson
Citi Bank
Tampa Bay, FL

Joseph P. Garin
Lipson Neilson PC
Las Vegas, NV

Kay C. Holmen
KPC Legal Audit Services, Inc.
Glendale, CA

Carole J. Buckner
Procopio Cory LLP
San Diego, CA

Mao Shiokura
Capstone Law APC
Los Angeles, CA

Jefferey O. Katz
Patterson Law Firm LLC
Chicago, IL

Karen L. Scott
KPC Legal Audit Services, Inc.
Glendale, CA

Bruce C. Fox
Obermayer Rebmann LLP
Pittsburgh, PA

Marc M. Seltzer
Susman Godfrey LLP
Los Angeles, CA

Judy W. Weiker
Manewitz Weiker Associates LLC
Indianapolis, IN

Cody Hill
Nix Patterson & Roach LLP
Austin, TX

Craig W. Smith
Robbins Arroyo LLP
San Diego, CA

Lisa A. Hull
KPC Legal Audit Services, Inc.
Glendale, CA

Top Attorney Fee Headlines of 2017

December 27, 2017

NALFA’s news blog covers news on attorney fee and legal billing matters.  2017 was a busy year for headlines on attorney fee issues.  Here are the top ten news blog headlines in 2017:

Fee Allocation Dispute in NFL Concussion Litigation

Judge Highlights Excessive Billing in Sprint Litigation

Class Action Fee Awards Shaped by Circuits and Benchmarks

$925M in Fees in Madoff-Related Matter

Legal Bills Not Fully Protected by Attorney-Client Privilege in California

In-House Counsel Can and Should Collect Attorney Fees

$175M in Attorney Fees in $10B VW Settlement

Lodestar: The Prefer Fee Calculation Method in California Mega-Cases?

Law Firms Seek Share of Fees From $680M Fund in BP MDL

Judge Approves $150M in Fees in Decades Long Rocky Flats Litigation

Indiana Appeals Court: Attorney Fee Records Not Protected or Confidential

December 26, 2017

A recent TheIndianaLawyer.com, by Olivia Covington, “COA: Attorney Fee Records Not Protected or Confidential” reports that an Indiana trial court did not err by denying a motion to quash a request for the production of attorney fee records because such records are not protected by attorney-client privilege or the Fifth Amendment, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

After Diyee Boulangger allegedly over-reported her hours and hourly rate during her three years of employment with Ohio Valley Eye Institute, P.C., her former employer filed a conversion, theft, theft by false impression, fraud and forgery complaint against Boulangger.  The state also filed criminal charges against Boulangger, but dismissed them without prejudice in February 2016.

The eye institute then moved for summary judgment in June 2015, but Boulangger responded with an affidavit from her attorney, David A. Guerrettaz, claiming the Evansville police Department had continued to investigate her even after the criminal charges were dropped.  Thus, Guerrettaz argued his client could not present facts in response to the summary judgment motion without violating her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

The Vanderburgh Superior Court eventually granted summary judgment to OVEI and awarded it a nearly $519,000 judgment, plus costs and post-judgment interest.  OVEI then moved for the trial court to order Boulangger to appear in court to testify to any non-exempt property to could be applied toward the judgment.

The eye institute also served Guerrettaz’s law firm with a non-party request for production of documents and subpoena duces tecum, seeking “(c)opies of any and all check and/or wire transfers received…for legal fees paid for (Boulangger’s) representation.”  Boulangger responded with a motion to quash, arguing the requested documents were protected by attorney-client privilege and her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.

The trial court disagreed and ordered the firm to produce the requested documents, so Boulangger filed an interlocutory appeal in Divee Boulangger v. Ohio Valley Eye Institute, PC.  The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s order, concluding the documents in question were not protected communications. 

Specifically, Judge Rudolph Pyle rejected Boulangger’s request for an “incrimination” exception to the rule that a client’s attorney fees are not protected by attorney-client privilege.  Drawing on precedent from in cases such as Hueck v. State, 590 N.E.2d 581, 584 (Ind. Ct. App. 1992) and Matter of Witnesses Before the Special March 1980 Grand Jury, 729 F.2d 489 (7th Cir. 1984), Pyle wrote the requested information – which included the source and amount of fees Boulangger paid – was neither confidential nor protected by attorney-client privilege.

Similarly, precedent in Fisher v. United States, 425 U.S. 391 (1976), defeated Boulangger’s Fifth Amendment argument because “the Supreme Court held that the Fifth Amendment did not preclude compelled disclosure of information from a third party such as a defendant’s attorney,” Pyle said.

Attorneys Want to Depose NFL Fee Expert

December 22, 2017

A recent Legal Intelligencer story, by Max Mitchell, “Lawyers Want to Depose NFL Fee Expert Over Slashed Attorney Fees,” reports that attorneys from five law firms have asked the court presiding over the consolidated NFL concussion litigation to depose the Harvard professor who recently recommended that fees for attorneys representing individual players be capped at 15 percent.

Attorneys filed two motions with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, asking the court to reconsider an order it issued last week that barred attorneys from seeking to depose Harvard Law School professor William Rubenstein about his recommendation to limit their attorney fees.  The order that U.S. District Judge Anita Brody issued Dec. 11 had changed course from a prior ruling that had said attorneys representing the ex-players would be able to seek to depose Rubenstein after he issued his opinion.

The motion that Philadelphia firm Locks Law Firm filed said that the deposition would be aimed at probing “the basis for professor Rubenstein’s assumptions and whether his recommendations would change if the assumptions, in whole or in part, were shown to be incorrect,” but the motion filed by Texas attorney Lance Lubel of Lubel Voyles said that allowing attorneys the change to depose Rubenstein was a due process issue.

“Without that process, a deposition and a facts-and-circumstances assessment of a particular fee contract, the cap is a denial of a contracted interest, that is, the benefit of the parties’ bargain, without an opportunity to be heard,” Lubel said in the motion, which was joined by attorneys from Washington & Associates, the Canady Law Firm and Provost Umphrey Law Firm—all of which are based in Texas.  “For the court to consider professor Rubenstein’s report without allowing interested parties to test the methodology, the conflict of interest, or the data will deprive interested parties of their right to participate in this process.”

Lubel’s filing also noted that Rubenstein had previously disclosed to the court that he had done some consulting work for attorneys at Anapol Weiss, which is the firm of attorney Sol Weiss, who is co-lead class counsel in the case.

Earlier this year, class counsel asked Brody to approve $112.5 million for attorney fees and costs stemming from the $1 billion settlement intended to compensate about 20,000 former players suffering from concussion-related injuries.  The NFL has agreed to pay the money in addition to the money for the class members.

The fee request included a 15.6 percent fee for attorneys representing claimants directly, along with the 5 percent set-aside that would be paid to the common benefit fund either from attorney fees, if the claimant has individual representation, or from the claimants’ recovery, if they are not represented by an attorney.

When it came to the 15 percent cap, Rubenstein’s 47-page report issued Dec. 11 gave several reasons for why he recommended limiting the fees.  The report noted that some contingency fees date back to 2011—four years before the settlement was given final approval in 2015—and some agreements are also as high as 45 percent.  He further noted that some players have more than one attorney, aggregate attorney fees in class actions are typically less than 15 percent, the case settled following little litigation, and many of the ex-players—most of whom are suffering from cognitive impairments—will receive “relatively small” recoveries.

Bitcoin for Legal Fees?

December 21, 2017

A recent Law.com story, by Ben Hancock, “What’s Next: Blockchain and Justice; Net Neutrality Fights Brews; Bitcoin for Legal Fees,” reports that the skyrocketing prices for crypto-currencies...

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NALFA Conducts Custom Hourly Rate Surveys

December 15, 2017

Hourly rates are the engine that drives attorney fees.  Hourly rates are the most important factor in determining attorney fee awards.  As such, establishing the prevailing market hourly rate is...

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