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Attorney Fees claimed by non-attorney of record? Attorney Fee Motion

Los Angeles, CA |

Can attorney fees be claimed by a non-attorney of record? That is, in a motion for attorney fees where the attorney of record claims one rate for attorney fees, can another sole practitioner attorney who is not the attorney of record, or part of the attorney of record's office, also claim attorney fees (particularly at a higher rate than the attorney of record)? To me it seems that in order to claim attorney fees that the attorney has to be the attorney of record or associated with the attorney of record's office and/or have signed a retainer with the client consenting to pay a higher rate than charged by the attorney of record - right? Citations would be useful! Thanks!

In other words, wouldn't the non-attorney of record have to collect any fees he/she feels they are owed, directly from the attorney of record, since the non-attorney of record does not have a contract with the "client"? Rules of Professional Conduct 2-200: A) A member shall not divide a fee for legal services with a lawyer who is not a partner of, associate of, or shareholder with the member unless: (1) The client has consented in writing thereto after a full disclosure has been made in writing that a division of fees will be made and the terms of such division; and (2) The total fee charged by all lawyers is not increased solely by reason of the provision for division of fees and is not unconscionable as that term is defined in rule 4-200. ROPC 4-200. Fees for Legal Services: (A) A member shall not enter into an agreement for, charge, or collect an illegal or unconscionable fee, partly determined by (11) The informed consent of the client to the fee.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. They may be able to get some attorney fees if they can show the attorney helped them.


  2. While your theory has some logic, that is not the law. The non-attorney of record's fees is a factor. If you want citations, you should retain an attorney to help you to help get you out of this.

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  3. Your question assumes fees are being claimed by "attorneys." California statutes generally authorize fees to be claimed by a "prevailing party."

    Attorneys, with client consent, can use outside counsel to handle a case. If it takes 10 hours to successfully represent the client, with 7 being expended by the attorney of record and 3 by some other attorney, why would the client not be able to request an award for 7 hours at a reasonable rate for attorney 1 and 3 hours at a reasonable rate for attorney 2? Why should the losing party (you) obtain a windfall by paying something less than reasonable fees? Perhaps you even agreed to do so in a contract.

    You may wonder whether a claim can be made for more than the attorney is charging the prevailing party. Sure. The statutes provide for "reasonable" awards. What is more, even though the courts won't allow self-representing litigants to claim fees on grounds they did not "actually incur" the fees, in other circumstances cases indicate the claimants need not have "actually incurred" the fees. If the rule were otherwise, the purposes of the statutes would generally be subverted. Thus, homeless people who are represented "pro bono" may, upon prevailing, apply for fee awards. Similarly, organizations represented by in-house counsel can seek fee awards at reasonable rates even if they only paid their attorneys on a small annual salary basis.

    If you are trying to defeat or minimize a fee award, it might be cost-efficient to hire someone who specializes in the area and pay for an expert.

    These remarks constitute general information, not legal advice. I am not your attorney unless you have entered a written fee agreement with me on a form provided by me.

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