Judge Believed Charging Standard Rates For Contract Attorneys Was Not Right.
Class counsel in the Bank of America class action litigation was dealing with an investor lawsuit where $51.6 million in fees were being sought in a case producing a $335 million settlement. Class counsel had 42 lawyers working on the case, including “temporary associates” hired in 2013 and 2014 who were billed out at a blended associate rate of $362 per hour. Also, the law firm prosecuting the class action devoted 11 partners to doing substantive work relating to motion practice and mediation, with four partners attending mediation sessions in the case.
U.S. District Judge William Pauley (S.D.N.Y.) awarded $41.3 million in fees, which were to be paid out when 75% of the settlement fund was distributed. He was critical of billing the temporary associates, who he deemed to be contract attorneys, at higher rates as well as overstaffing the substantive legal work with high-priced partners.