Recovery of Attorney’s Fees at Conclusion of Case

Posted by David Deutsch

When a lawsuit ends and an attorney for the prevailing party seeks attorney’s fees, the burden of proving that the fees are reasonable lies with the party seeking fees. Reasonableness must be established by clear and convincing evidence. The attorney seeking fees must keep records in sufficient detail that a neutral judge can make a fair evaluation of the time expended on the matter, nature and need for the service and the reasonableness of the fees requested. Uncertainty arising from poor record keeping is resolved against the party seeking fees. For an award of fees, Arizona law requires that the attorney seeking the award record time spent on work contemporaneously with the work done in sufficient detail to enable evaluation of the time by the judge. Arizona law also requires that attorneys present a court with detailed, accurate and current records of legal work done and time spent. According to a recent Arizona Court of Appeals ruling, overbilling, which may include failure to keep accurate time, block or summary billing that omits detail as to tasks performed and time spent, and billing for joint tasks, may support claims for both breach of fiduciary duty and legal malpractice for billing practices.

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