January 28, 2013
A recent Forbes story, “Citigroup Plaintiff Lawyers Fire Back at Fee Objectors,” reports that lawyers seeking nearly $100 million in attorney fees for negotiating a $500 million settlement with Citigroup fired back at critics who accused them of unreasonably marking up the services of temporary attorneys.
Kirby McInerney defends the fee request, saying that’s what lawyers at equivalent firms make (after courts tack an extra multiple to reflect the risk of earning nothing it the contingency-fee case fails). “Project-specific personnel were performing highly complicated, highly important work – work that, absent extensive training, almost no one else could do,” said Kirby McInerney partners Ira Press and Peter Linden in their 61-page response.
The detailed response is aimed mostly at perennial fee objector and class action foe Ted Frank. In the fling Kirby McInerney says it rejected 75 percent of the lawyers it considered hiring on a temporary basis and sought out graduates of prestigious schools with specialized training in the collateralized debt obligations at the core of the litigation. The final team included two graduates of Columbia Law School, five from NYU, and four from Georgetown, as well as a Chartered Financial Analyst and two MBAs.
“Almost all fee objectors are not qualified fee experts. Perennial fee objectors are not qualifed fee experts because they are not hired or appointed by anyone; they appoint themselves to these cases to advance their political agenda. The fact is that using highly-skilled, experienced temporary attorneys are a very cost effective model for law firms in large, complex cases. The alternative, training-up young associates on these highly complex issues, would have actually been more costly for Citigroup,” said Terry Jesse, Executive Director of NALFA.