New Way to Harass your Opposing Attorney – File a complaint with KBA challenging His Legal Fee – Apparently the Bar Counsel Likes to Set Attorney Fees

New Way to Harass your Opposing Attorney – File a complaint with KBA challenging His Legal Fee – Apparently the Bar Counsel Likes to Set Attorney Fees
LawReader – Feb. 14, 2013
LawReader has received several comments from unnamed attorneys who inform us it is their opinion that the Bar Counsel’s staff is trying to take over your ability to set your attorney fees.
One complainant said they had a written and singed fee agreement, and that their work was consistent with the contract, and that the Bar Counsel has spent almost a year investigating them.
These claims of lengthy investigation of attorneys regarding their legal fee, is troubling to Bar members when they find that former KBA officials, who are now practicing law and appear to have the favor of Bar Counsel investigators, are claimed to represent. We would like to suggest that the Sup. Ct. start making Rule 11 sanctions against the KBA when they needlessly harass attorneys and the fee is found to be reasonable.
Perhaps it’s time for the Supreme Court to set standards for the Bar Counsel to bring such claims. Why is the burden of proof placed on the KBA on such claims?
Further, it might be popularly accepted by the bar if former members of the KBA were forbidden from representing clients who file ethics complaints for at least five years after the official resigns from the KBA.
The Supreme Court rules allow some KBA review of attorney fees. All the Bar Counsel has to do is to challenge the “reasonableness” of your legal fee.
See: SCR 3.130(1.5) Fees
(a) A lawyer shall not make an agreement for, charge, or collect an unreasonable fee or an unreasonable amount for expenses. The factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of a fee include the following:

(1) the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly;
(2) the likelihood that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer;
(3) the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services;
(4) the amount involved and the results obtained;
(5) the time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances;
(6) the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client;
(7) the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services; and
(8) whether the fee is fixed or contingent.

There are nationally recognized standards for legal fees which might be considered by the Supreme Court.
Perhaps the most widely followed set of rates are what is called the Laffey Matrix that is available from the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. These have been available since 1982 and are updated each year. The hourly rates are shown by years of experience. For June 1, 2006 to May 31, 2007 the rates are as follows: 20+ years of experience, $425 per hour; 11–19 years, $375; 8–10 years, $305; 4–7 years, $245; 1–3 years, $205; and Paralegals/law clerks $120 [1]. (Wikipedia)

Attorney’s fee is a chiefly United States term for compensation for legal services performed by an attorney (lawyer or law firm) for a client, in or out of court. It may be an hourly, flat-rate or contingent fee. Attorney fees are separate from fines, compensatory and punitive damages, and (except in Nevada) from court costs in a legal case. Surveys suggest that fees range from $150 to $1000 per hour when billed hourly
Amount of fees
The range of fees charged by lawyers varies widely from one city to the next. Most large law firms in the United States bill between $200 and $1,000 per hour for their lawyers’ time, though fees charged by smaller firms are much lower. The rate varies tremendously by location as well as the specific area of law practiced. Typically insurance defense firms have lower hourly rates than non-insurance firms, but are compensated by having steady, regular paying work provided. Locations like Salt Lake City will average $150 per hour for an associate’s time on a basic case, but will increase for larger firms.
Many surveys of hourly rates are done. The American Intellectual Property Law Association (“AIPLA”) commissions a survey of its members every 2 years and it publishes these in what it calls a “Report of the Economic Survey”. The latest one is dated June 2007. Rates are collected for 14 geographic areas and by associate or partner.[4] Many courts have followed the rates shown by these AIPLA surveys and they are highly-regarded for Intellectual Property litigation. Because of the broad variability of attorneys’ fees, independent organizations such as promote attorneys’ fees transparency by publishing comprehensive data on both large and small firm attorney fees.[5]
The Laffey Matrix appears to be growing in acceptance by many courts throughout the United States, but the matrix must be adjusted to account for higher or lower costs for legal services in other areas.
Hourly rates are increasing almost every year and some lawyers charge substantially higher than the rates shown by the Laffey Matrix. The first American attorney to regularly charge a four-digit hourly fee ($1000 and higher) was Benjamin Civiletti in late 2005.[6]
With the ongoing recession of the 2000s, corporate clients began driving attorneys increasingly toward alternative fee arrangements, or AFAs. AFAs can include flat fees (per matter), fixed fees (for a “book” of matters), success bonuses, and other options beyond straight hourly billing

LawReader would suggest that some laywers beleive the KBA may be awarding big law firms larger fees than small firms for similar work. We ask the KBA to tell Bar Members the standards they apply for setting KBA fees to contract work, family law, wills and trust, criminal law, and defense litigation for large insurance companies?

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