Today’s story in the Boston Globe provides a glimpse into the kinds of disputes that that can arise when a law firm’s client believes its legal fees are too high. The story covers an arbitrator’s finding that one of Boston’s premier law firms overcharged a client by more than $540,000. The arbitrator reportedly faulted the firm for submitting “vague” invoices and for assigning multiple employees to work on pleadings (e.g., six employees who billed more than 200 hours in total to prepare a complaint and injunction papers).

In these kinds of disputes, clients and lawyers are often forced to deal with the question of what constitutes “reasonable” attorneys’ fees. If the dispute is presented to a court in Massachusetts, a judge will use the “lodestar method” to calculate reasonable attorneys’ fees. According to a Massachusetts Appeals Court decision, this method involves “the multiplication of a fair market hourly rate by the amount of reasonably spent time.”

Read the full article here.