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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Lodestar. In determining attorneys' fee awards under the Voting Rights Act, while "the court should generally use the prevailing hourly rate in the district where it sits to calculate what has been called the 'lodestone' -- what we think is more aptly termed the 'presumptively reasonable fee' -- the district court may adjust this base hourly rate to account for a plaintiff's reasonable decision to retain out-of-district counsel, just as it may adjust the base hourly rate to account for other case-specific variables." The district court, in deciding a lodestar rate, should decide what a reasonable paying client would be willing to pay. In making that finding, the Court should consider the complexity and difficulty of the case, the available expertise and capacity of the client's other counsel (if any), the resources required to prosecute the case effectively (taking account of the resources being marshaled on the other side but not endorsing scorched earth tactics), the timeing demands of the case, whether the attorney had an interest (independent of that of his client) in acheiving the ends of the litigation or initiated the representative himself, whether the attorney was initially acting pro bono (such that a client might be aware that the attonrey expected low or non-existent remuneration), and other returns (such as reputation, etc.) the attorney expected from the representation.

The decision in Arbor Hill Concerned Citizens Neighborhood Association v. County of Albany can be found here.

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