A belated update: Earlier this year (Feb. 5, Feb. 10) we brought word of a Los Angeles case in which a judge ruled that a class action lawyer who had obtained gift cards but not cash for the client class (in a suit against Windsor Fashions) should himself be paid his fee in gift cards. Turns out that didn’t last long: Per the L.A. Times, “Another judge overturned the order in February and awarded Yorba Linda lawyer Neil B. Fineman $125,000 in fees instead of gift cards.”
The Washington Times reported on Friday on what it says is a little-noticed provision in draft cap-and-trade legislation (PDF) authored by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.): new authorization for “citizen suits” to challenge government inaction on climate change. The bill would confer such standing, according to the article, on anyone “who has suffered, or reasonably expects to suffer, a harm attributable, in whole or in part,” to such inaction. However — in an apparent concession made some time ago to Republican lawmakers — the article also says that total payouts by the government would be limited to the comparatively minor amount of $1.5 million per year. Attorneys’ fees payable to prevailing plaintiffs, however, will presumably be subject to no such limit. More: Carter Wood also discovers new litigation powers for state AGs tucked into the bill; Marlo Lewis, CEI “Open Market”; Deputy Headmistress.
The Recorder: “A federal judge turned down a request for more than $2 million in fees and sanctioned a San Francisco plaintiffs lawyer $25,000 for submitting false fee applications in civil rights litigation against FedEx.” Judge Susan Illston wrote that Waukeen McCoy’s “acts of misconduct with regard to the fee petitions are among the most egregious that this court has seen in almost 14 years on the bench.” More: California Civil Justice. Earlier: Nov. 14, 2007 (McCoy’s firm “billed [opponent] Federal Express for 23.5 hours of one of its attorneys’ time over a single day”), and, on the same lawyer, July 10, 2000.
- Probate court in Connecticut: bad enough when they hold you improperly in conservatorship, but worse when they bill you for the favor [Hartford Courant]
- Does “Patent Troll” in World of Warcraft count as a character type or a monster type? [Broken Toys]
- 102-year-old Italian woman wins decade-long legal dispute, but is told appeal could take 10 years more [Telegraph]
- “This Cartoon Could Be Illegal, If Two Iowa Legislators Have Their Way” [Eugene Volokh]
- David Giacalone, nonpareil commentator on attorneys’ fee ethics (and haiku), has decided to end his blog f/k/a. He signs off with a four-part series on lawyer billing and fairness to consumers/clients: parts one, two, three, four, plus a final “Understanding and Reducing Attorney Fees“. He’s keeping the site as archives, though, and let’s hope that as such it goes on shedding its light for as long as there are lawyers and vulnerable clients. More: Scott Greenfield.
- Even they can’t manage to comply? Politically active union SEIU faces unfair labor practice charges from its own employees [WaPo]
- Judge in Austin awards $3 million from couple’s estate to their divorce lawyers [Austin American-Statesman]
- “Keywords With Highest Cost Per Click”, lawyers and financial services dominate [SpyFu]
Great for lawyers’ image when that happens: “A New York surrogate court judge has approved a $91,000 payment to an estate executor, despite a provision in the decedent’s will prohibiting commissions to anyone.”
A week ago we quoted reader Phil Grossman’s comment on this subject, provoking a discussion among readers. Now Grossman writes in with a followup:
Here’s the story on bar associations forbidding “discounting of contingency fees for clients coming to lawyers directly so that those lawyers do not have to pay referral fees”.
I had told you that I had seen reports out on the Internet saying that. But it now appears that what those reports were reporting on was that bar associations do not allow lawyers to raise their contingency fees to make up for paying referral fees in those cases where they are paying referral fees. And that really amounts to the same thing as not allowing lawyers to discount fees in cases where they are not paying referral fees. Because if they were allowed to give discounts to clients where they didn’t have to pay referral fees, they would be charging clients who come to them with a referral fee to be paid, more than clients who come to them without referral fees to be paid.
“The men who became two of the highest-paid solicitors in Britain by mishandling the claims of almost 100,000 sick miners will be struck off [= disbarred] after being found guilty of misconduct yesterday. James Beresford and Douglas Smith, partners in the South Yorkshire firm Beresfords, took advantage of vulnerable miners by putting their own commercial goals before those of their clients, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal found. The company earned more than £115m under a government scheme for compensating miners with health claims, and Beresford himself made more than £16m in one year.” Among allegations the tribunal accepted as valid were acting in a conflict of interest and structuring fee arrangements in a way not in the clients’ best interest. (Afua Hirsch, Guardian, Dec. 12; Point of Law, Nov. 28).