Tuesday, April 15, 2003

what is a reasonable hourly rate?

I have been chewing on an issue....: When we have to request Court Ordered counsel fees, I have not found a source to supply the Court for the purpose of determining what is a reasonable hourly rate. I followed a link at myshingle.com to a 2002 survey of the rates at the 250 largest firms, but I don't know how convincing that would be to a local judge. With the higher efficiency business model of a multi-attorney firm, however, would not it be reasonable that solos have higher rates than larger firms? After all, is not the hourly rate an artificial construct intended to reflect the cost of providing the service?

By deciding these issues with no evidence, Judges are in effect taking judicial notice of the local hourly rates, but with no data other than their experience. And some of these judges haven't been in private practice in 20 years...or ever. The judge in the E.D. Pennsylvania seems to agree with me in the decision in PETRONILA RIVERA v. PHILADELPHIA HOUSING AUTHORITY, et al. 97-CV-7976.

Wouldn't it be reasonable for the Delaware Bar Association to provide survey results as to the prevailing hourly rates for attorneys, with adjustment for relevant factors such as: years in practice; expertise; and complexity of the area of practice. Ahh but then everyone would claim price fixing. Well isn't price fixing by a rational economic method better than arbitrary and capricious?

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