In class action lawsuits a big piece of the attorneys' fees often are generated by billing out tempory lawyers from staffing agencies at substantially higher rates than they are paid for their typically perfunctory document review work. However, this billing practice no longer may serve as a profit center for the plaintiffs' bar to the rich extent it once did.
A federal judge has slashed a $100 million fee request by trial lawyers who negotiated a $590 million settlement in a securities action against Citigroup after citing, among other things, "significantly inflated" hourly rates for contract attorneys and "waste and inefficiency" in the work performed as reported by Daniel Fisher for Forbes: "the order by U.S. District Judge Sideny Stein in New York cut the fee award to Kirby McInerney by $26.7 million to $70.8 million." Judge Stein said in his order that the plaintiffs' lawyers should have been "more forthcoming" with the court about their use of contract attorneys, and held that they were not entitled to bill them out at the higher rates of firm associates.
The successful objection to the fee request was made by Ted Frank from the Center for Class Action Fairness (CCAF) which has criticized the lawsuit industry for settlement deals which often are more lucrative for the plaintiffs' lawyers than the underlying clients they purport to represent.
The CCAF "is happy to have won tens of millions of dollars for class members" but is evaluating whether to appeal Judge Stein's order for failing to reduce the fee award even further as reported by Ted Frank for Point of Law.
Further reading that may be of interest: