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San Francisco & Dallas Join Top Tier Hourly Rate Cities

August 2, 2021

The old adage that real estate is all about location, location, location also applies to hourly rates.  NALFA recently released its results from its annual hourly rate survey of civil litigation in the U.S.  The survey results, published in The 2020 Litigation Hourly Rate Survey & Report, shows hourly rate data on factors that correlate to hourly rates in litigation, including geography. 

NALFA surveyed thousands of litigators (plaintiffs’ and defense counsel) from the 16 largest legal markets.  NALFA divided its results into a tier group system.  These tiered peer cities share similar characteristics on litigation hourly rate data.  The following 16 cities are list from highest billing rates in litigation to lowest:

Washington, DC
San Francisco, CA      Tier I
New York, NY
Dallas, TX

Chicago, IL
Los Angeles, CA         Tier II
Boston, MA
Miami, FL

Philadelphia, PA
Atlanta, GA                 Tier III
Houston, TX
San Diego, CA

Seattle, WA
Tampa, FL                   Tier IV
Denver, CO
New Orleans, LA

This 2020 Litigation Hourly Rate Survey & Report is now available for purchase.  For more information on this, email NALFA Executive Director, Terry Jesse at terry@thenalfa.org or call us at (312) 907-7275.

Compare & Prove Hourly Rates with NALFA Survey

July 20, 2021

Every year, NALFA conducts an hourly rate survey of civil litigation in the U.S.  NALFA has released the results from its 2020 Litigation Hourly Rate Survey.  The survey results, published in The 2020 Litigation Hourly Rate Survey & Report, shows hourly rate data on the very factors that correlate to hourly rates in litigation:

  • Geography / Location / Jurisdiction
  • Years of Litigation Experience / Seniority
  • Practice Area / Complexity of Case
  • Law Firm / Law Office Size

This empirical survey and report provides macro and micro data of current hourly rate ranges for both defense and plaintiffs’ litigators, at various litigation experience levels, from large law firms to solo shops, in routine and complex litigation, and in the nation’s largest legal markets and beyond.  This is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive survey or study on hourly rates.  This data-intensive survey contains hundreds of data sets and thousands of data points covering dozens of relevant hourly rate variables.  The survey was designed to aid litigators in comparing rates within a litigation peer group and proving rates in court and ADR.

The 2020 Litigation Hourly Rate Survey & Report is divided into two parts, a free public portion and a private portion.  The public portion contains only the survey totals.  The data-rich private portion has the complete survey results including the raw data responses with percentages.  The private portion is free to members of our network (i.e. members, faculty, and fellows) and the 2020 litigation survey respondents.  The private portion is available for purchase to others.     

This 2020 Litigation Hourly Rate Survey & Report is now available for purchase.  For more information on this, email NALFA Executive Director, Terry Jesse at terry@thenalfa.org or call us at (312) 907-7275.

Class Counsel Seek $1.2M in Fees in Drizly Data Breach Settlement

July 17, 2021

A recent Law 360 story by Brian Dowling, “Class Attys Eye $1.2M After Drizly Data Breach Deal”, reports that attorneys for Drizly customers whose credit card information was allegedly compromised by hackers asked a Massachusetts federal judge to award them $1.2 million in attorney fees and costs for their work on the case the alcohol delivery company has agreed to settle for as much as $7.1 million.

The Boston-based company had agreed to pay the group of class attorneys — from Block & Leviton LLP, Keller Lenkner LLC, Lowey Dannenberg PC, Carlson Lynch LLP and Thompson Consumer Law Group PC — up to $1.2 million, in addition to the settlement funds that are to be paid to about 2.5 million affected consumers.  The attorneys urged U.S. District Judge Leo T. Sorokin to sign off on the about $1.9 million in fees and about $13,000 in costs for their work on the case, which the firms predicted would have been "fiercely contested" and faced significant risks for the customers' claims.

"These risks are compounded by the fact that data breach litigation is a relatively novel area of law," the class counsel said.  "The most immediate risk of a potential adverse ruling involved Drizly's motion to compel arbitration, which was pending when the parties reached this settlement."  The attorneys said even if the customers won on the arbitration question, Drizly would have kicked the issue to the First Circuit to review, dragging out the litigation and increasing the risk that the case could have ended with no benefit to the class.

Altogether, the legal team spent more than 1,100 hours on the case, resulting in a lodestar amount of $670,199, according to the attorneys. The fee request amounts to a "reasonable" multiplier of 1.7 from that number, the attorneys said.  Hourly billing rates for the attorneys ranged from $575 to $1025 for partner-level lawyers, $400 to $800 for associates and $200 to $315 for paralegals and other nonattorney staff, the filing said.  The request also seeks $8,000 in awards to be split between the four named plaintiffs in the class.

A group of Drizly customers filed suit against the alcohol e-commerce company in August 2020 after it warned users of a major data breach the month before. The potential class action suit claimed the company was slow to report the breach, and customers cited evidence they said showed their credit card details had been for sale on the dark web since February 2020.

Drizly, which is being acquired for $1.1 billion by Uber Technologies Inc., in November asked the court to send the dispute to arbitration due to a provision in its terms of service as well as a class action waiver that it said barred the collective action.  The parties met in January — the arbitration question still pending — and agreed to settlement terms within a week.

Saxena White Secures $40.5M in Fees in DaVita Investor Settlement

July 16, 2021

A recent Law 360 story by Katryna Perera, “DaVita Investor Attys Score $40.5M in Fees From Settlement”, reports that the law firms that represented investors in a case against health care company DaVita Inc. were awarded $40.5 million Thursday for their work on a $135 million class-action settlement of claims that shareholders were hurt when it was revealed that the company pressured patients to enroll in high-cost, private insurance plans.

U.S. District Judge William Martinez of the District of Colorado awarded attorney fees of 30% of the settlement fund as well as reimbursement of $547,409.27 in litigation expenses and $10,000 in representative rebates after the lead plaintiffs requested it.

Attorneys from Saxena White PA and Shuman Glenn & Stecker represented the plaintiffs, led by the Peace Officers' Annuity and Benefit Fund of Georgia and the Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund.

Judge Martinez said the attorney fees would be calculated using a percentage rather than the lodestar approach because the case is a common fund case.

In his order, Judge Martinez mentioned the "extensive and extremely comprehensive investigation" the attorneys conducted and how time-consuming the settlement negotiations were.

Over four years of litigation, the lead counsel expended more than 31,000 hours, equivalent to $14.7 million in attorney and staff time, the judge said.

Additionally, the lead counsel will continue to work and incur out-of-pocket expenses in connection with the distribution of the settlement, now that it has received final approval, Judge Martinez noted.

A 30% award fee is typical even in "megafund" settlements, the judge said, and he noted the prominence of the $135 million resolution, calling it an "exceptional" monetary result.

"The $135 million recovery represents the second-largest all-cash securities class action recovery ever obtained in this district, is among the top five such settlements in Tenth Circuit history, and is more than 20 times larger than the $6.7 million median for securities class action settlements in the Tenth Circuit from 2010 to 2019," Judge Martinez said.

The judge also pointed out the risk that law firms take with class actions, as there is no guarantee of success.

"To date, lead counsel has received no compensation for its prosecution of this case, and since the extensive commitment of time and resources devoted here necessarily entailed the preclusion of other projects, the primary focus of this factor is to acknowledge this incongruence by permitting a higher recovery to compensate for the risk of recovering nothing," he said.

DaVita settled with investors last year after it was accused of steering patients away from government health insurance plans and into high-cost, private insurance plans.

According to the original complaint brought in 2017, DaVita pressured patients to enroll in the high-cost plans to obtain dialysis reimbursement rates that were up to 10 times higher than the rates for the same dialysis treatment under government plans.

The class members alleged that DaVita stock prices plummeted after its "scheme" was revealed.

Trouble continued for the company on Thursday when the U.S. Department of Justice announced that DaVita and its former CEO, Kent Thiry, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver, charged with conspiring with competing employers not to solicit certain employees.

Judge Slams Hourly Rates in Wage Action

July 15, 2021

A recent Bloomberg Law story by Maya Earls, “Judge Slams Hourly Rates, Awards $1 Attorneys’ Fee in Wage Suit,” reports that a federal judge in Arkansas rejected a request for more than $30,000 in attorneys’ fees in an overtime pay dispute and awarded Sanford Law Firm $1 instead, saying the higher amount isn’t fair, proper, or just under the circumstances.  Sanford Law Firm represented a plaintiff in a Fair Labor Standards Act collective action filed against Eden Isle Corp.  The plaintiff accepted a $4,000 outstanding offer of judgment and later sought about $30,681 in lawyers’ fees and $1,225 in costs.

Sanford’s hourly rates “appear to be entirely arbitrary and unreliable,” according to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.  The firm requested between $240 and $383 an hour for attorneys, but other cases litigated by the firm during the same time period had lower hourly rates, the court said.  The more reasonable hourly rates are between $125 and $250 an hour, according to the ruling.

This case involved 13 timekeepers, ten of whom were lawyers.  Eden Isle noted that a large amount of time attributed to the lead lawyer was spent on in-house conferences and communication.  This is too much oversight for a lawyer who has been practicing for 11 years and focused her practice on employment law, the court said.  “As has been pointed out time and again, the random involvement of all of the lawyers and the constant oversight by the senior attorney are inefficient, unnecessary, and unreasonable,” wrote Judge Billy Roy Wilson.

Sanford sought more than $3,600 for work on a motion for summary judgment, but the motion was granted for Eden Isle before the plaintiff accepted the outstanding offer of judgment.  Wilson criticized the “frivolous request,” writing that this isn’t the first time the firm sought reimbursement for unsuccessful issues.

“Although plaintiff was, technically, the prevailing party, his ‘success’ was paltry, at best,” wrote Wilson.  The court cited other billing issues, such as duplicative billing and excessive time, that resulted in a petition that was “excessive and unreliable.”  Wilson reduced the costs from $1,241 to $416 because the $825 cost for a private process server isn’t recoverable.  The plaintiff will challenge the judge’s findings in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, according to a notice filed.