Fee Claimants Would Need To Show That The Summer Clerk Work Resulted In Efficiencies Contributing To The Value Of The Case For Fee Purposes.
We had an interesting question posed by Reynaldo Fuentes as to whether summer clerk work could be compensated on a fee motion by California state courts, presumably a non-licensed law student who was studying and awaiting California State Bar results. We would hazard a “yes,” but with an important caveat.
There is no California case precisely on point. However, the reasoning in Ellis v. Toshiba America Information System, Inc., 218 Cal.App.4th 853, 888-889 (2013) is helpful. There, it was found that the time by a lawyer’s staff, especially non-certificated paralegals, could be compensable under the right circumstances.
Out-of-state authority similarly is instructive. We think that the guiding standard might be provided by Ramos v. Lamm, 538 F. Supp. 730, 751 (D. Colo. 1982), where a district judge found that law clerk time is compensable if it enhances and contributes to a billing attorney’s time, although there would be scrutiny to make sure there was supervision and contribution as far as a case was concerned.
That is our read, but certainly this is an issue which can be litigated in our state court system.