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Weekly Wrap Up 12/2/2011

A collection of legal fee articles from the past week…

Law Firms Work For Free, Saving Chicago on Legal Fees (ABA Journal) – With the appointment of Chicago corporate counsel, Steven Patton, came his request that lawyers work for the city for free. This was met with a positive response, with none of the firms turning him down unless there was a conflict. Four firms have agreed to represent the city on complex matters and to provide legal advice for free. Last year, the city spent approximately $25 million in legal fees. Chicago will not be the first city to save on legal fees by receiving free legal help. New York and Los Angeles have saved millions of dollars through free legal services as well.

Court Reduces Attorney’s Fee Request by Nearly $50,000 Due to Block Billing and Travel Time (Sterling Analytics) – In Kearney v. Auto-Owners Insurance Company, the District Court for the Middle District of Florida reduced defendant’s attorney fee request by $49,198. The court made reductions where the attorneys engaged in block billing, making it difficult to determine the reasonableness of the fees. Additionally, the court made reductions where the court could not distinguish whether the attorneys were charging for work while traveling or merely just traveling. Billing entries regarding tasks performed while travelling should clearly state the time spent on work and the time spent on travel.

School District to Pay Attorney Fees in Construction Contract Case (Beaumont Enterprise) – L&L General Contractors was awarded $28,116 in attorneys’ fees after alleging the Beaumont Independent School District awarded a construction contract to a minority-owned company solely for that reason. The court ordered an injunction in May after it found that the school district violated competitive bidding procedures. The manager of the district’s bond projects, Parsons Commercial Technology Group, Inc., was found to be in contempt of the court and also ordered to pay $16,406.87 for L&L’s attorney’s fees.

State May Have to Pay Acquitted Man’s Attorney’s Fees ( – Washington state law states that a person acquitted by self defense is entitled to recoup attorneys’ fees and other trial-related expenses. Brian Barnd-Spjut was acquitted of four counts of assault for pointing a gun at nightclub bouncers and staff, the jury finding his actions to be in self-defense. Judge Warme overturned the jury’s verdict awarding attorneys’ fees, however, the appeals court ruled that Warme lacked the authority to do so because the prosecutor did not object to the fees at trial. Warme has since retired and a different judge must now determine what fees the state must pay.

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