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A collection of legal fee articles from the past week…

Heller Attorneys’ Fees Ready for Appeal (LegalTimes) – Lead attorney for victorious plaintiff Heller is back in the courtroom, appealing a $1.17 million attorneys’ fee award from the District Court. Alan Gura, of Alexandria’s Gura & Possessky, and Clark Neilly III, from the Institute for Justice today, filed a notice of appeal announcing his intent to ask the Federal Circuit to review the D.D.C opinion. All this is taking place on the backdrop of settlement negotiations between the District of Columbia and Gura. Neilly confirmed that settlement negotiations are continuing, but that the notice of appeal was filed to ensure their options in court remain open. Heller’s legal team is disputing the reduction from their 3.12 million dollar request, stating the original amount was reasonable based upon the length and complexity of the request.

Madoff Trustee Makes Another Fee Request (Bloomberg BusinessWeek) – Irving Picard and his firm of Baker & Hostetler LLP have requested an addition $48 million in fees and $1.2 million in expenses for the four months through September 2011, their 8th such filing. If awarded, the fees would raise the total amount the firm has received to $273 million since the 2008 arrest of Madoff. Picard claims in the filing that approximately $9 billion has been recovered for Madoff customers, but did note that nearly 6.5 billion of that is not available because it is tied up due to court challenges or being held in reserve. U.S. District Court Judge Rakoff has already challenged the fees that Picard is requesting in court, commenting that “I just keep reading in the paper how much is being paid to Picard.”

Bankruptcy Court Reduces Attorney’s Fees by 38% Due to Unreasonable “In House Standard Time” and Other Improper Charges (Sterling Analytics) – In July 2010, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the District of Nebraska reduced requested attorney’s fee from $5,636 to $3,500. In this case, the debtors objected to their former attorney’s fee application, claiming that the requested fee amount was unreasonable. In reviewing the fees, the court found several issues with the debtors’ former attorney’s application. First, the court reduced the hourly rate charged by the attorney and his paralegal because it was higher than the rates used by the attorney in other Chapter 13 cases during the same period. Second, the court reduced an excessive charge for preparing a three paragraph motion.

Bus Company Case Costs More in Legal Fees Than to Settle (Gibraltar Chronicle [UK]) – The government of Gibraltar, a British Protectorate, has announced that a recent case brought by a former Bus Company employee has cost more in legal fees to defend than it would have to settle. The case, which began under the previous government, was reviewed by the new government in conjunction with a review of capital projects. As majority shareholder, the government recommended that the Bus Company directors drop their defense of the case. Commenting on the matter, the Minister for Transport Neil Costa noted that as a result of all of the above, it is “abundantly clear that the actions of the Government are perfectly proper.”

City Council to Review City Attorney Contract as Legal Fees Escalate (Redlands Daily Facts) – The Upland City Council is evaluating its contract with the Los Angeles firm of Richards, Watson & Gershon after compiling nearly $8 million dollars in legal fees over the past 3 years. City Manager Stephen Dunn had released a memo (when he served as finance director in 2010) noting examples of frivolous and excessive charges. Mayor Ray Musser has also indicated that he is in favor of putting the city legal services contract out to bid, and pointed out that he voted against the renewal a couple of years ago. The contract has not been bid on in over 20 years.

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