Here is the sought after take:
Attorneys who win civil-rights cases can also ask the trial judge to apply a “fee multiplier” in cases of “exceptional success.” Howell wants his estimated fees of $174,321 multiplied one-and-a-half times.
This guy’s billing rate is $480/hour so he put in 363 hours, the equivalent of a bit over 9 weeks (at 40 hours/week).
Another Seattle attorney involved in similar cases says:
“Unless attorneys who undertake risky civil rights cases are fairly and fully compensated for the time expended in these cases, the limited pool of lawyers willing to vindicate the rights of victims of government will shrink.”
Folks, this is a lawyer. Now I can see a lawyer billing enough to support a secretary and some office space but surely if he is good enough to bill even half this rate he should be good enough to be pretty busy and shouldn’t need to bill a year or threes overhead on one case.
If he is trying to make his whole year’s income off one 9 week equivalent case then perhaps he should find some other work to fill in the rest of the year. Fair and fully compensated should mean at a rate adequate to live a comfortable life which in the suburbs of Seattle does not require anything close to the equivalent of $1,000,000/year.
Give him credit for winning the case but how good can he be if it takes him 20 hours ( $10,560) just to figure out how much to bill?? It seems like a bit of malfeasance that he hasn’t hired a $400/day accountant to spend an hour or two to do his billing…
In another view: can a case be made that his hourly rate should be no higher than what he would have earned from his 40% contingency agreement with his client…$107,00/363=$295/hour. Still high but it turns out to be what he agreed to do the work for originally…could have been lower or higher based on the amount of award.
Thoughts from any of you lawyers?
NB: It is also pretty ridiculous that the legal expenses for this one case have already hit $675,000 and the clock is apparently still running. The city officials who failed to settle this case out of court should be fired!