Lawyer Fee Requests: Be Careful What You Ask For

Chez CrappyA judge of the Civil Court of the City of New York refused to award BigLaw firm Mayer Brown LLP, $126,026.88 in requested fees for representing a prevailing party in a landlord-tenant suit. In fact, the judge refused to award any fees at all as a result of the egregious billing conduct of the lawyers. See Clozel v. Jalisi, No. 11227/12 (Jan. 14, 2014). Said the court:

Plaintiff submits a fourteen (14) page statement for counsel services. This statement demonstrates much duplicated effort, research on the most basic and banal legal principles that a client could reasonably expect counsel charging minimally $405 per hour would have prior knowledge of, not requiring review or oversight by a more senior associate, Jason I. Kirschner, at $615 per hour and a partner, Lee N. Abrams, at $895 per hour, all as unabashedly invoiced here. This is particularly egregious considering Mayer Brown LLP asserts it has attained a reputation as a “global law firm with a large litigation practice . . . routinely represent[ing] clients in connection with disputes arising from . . . landlord/tenant [matters].”

In Louisiana, a lawyer’s fee must be reasonable in light of all of the factors set forth in Rule 1.5(a). Given the utter lack of “complexity” of the issues in such a run-of-the-mill landlord-tenant dispute, I’d expect the same result here.

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