The Lodestar method helps the court determine how much an attorney should be paid. In different types of cases, the losing side may have to pay the other side’s attorney fees. When this happens, the court generally follows a formula to determine this amount of money. They call this formula the lodestar method.
The court awarded the successful attorney with repayment for his costs using the lodestar method.
In Barker v. Utah Public Service Commission, two lawyers brought up the issue of the lodestar method. Barker and Flynn had successfully won a lawsuit. They sought for repayment for their time from the other side. After calculating the amount as required, the court then reduced the amount in half. It argued that a similar case had already set the same precedent, so the lawyers put in unnecessary time into the case. However, on appeal the Utah Supreme Court agreed with the lawyers and awarded them the full amount.
Other Important Information
The court calculates the fees awarded by multiplying the number of hours spent by the lawyer times the lawyer’s hourly rate. The lawyer must present a reasonable hourly rate, typically what they normally charge. The court can verify its fairness by comparing their fees to other local lawyers with the same skill set and experience. The lawyer must also present evidence that the number of hours were reasonable. The court can adjust this amount under some circumstances if it is too low or too high. Some hours may be excluded for a number of reasons. Some of these include excessive or redundant hours or the hours were not correctly documented. Sometimes a lawyer agrees with their client to only charge him if they wins the case. In Utah, attorney fees awarded do not replace the money won from the case. Instead, the attorney will receive a percentage of both the money won in the case and the attorney fees. Some disagree with using the lodestar method. A Notre Dame law professor feels it is a poor way to determine how much an attorney should be repaid. A study showed that some lawyers work more hours than needed so they can ask for more after they win. Instead, the professor argues that lawyers should just get a percentage of the total award.