Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

Friday, December 28, 2007

Court Approves $3.1 Million in Attorneys Fees For Law Professor For Representing Holocaust Victims

Court Approves $3.1 Million Neuborne Fee is an interesting December 7, 2007 New York Law Journal about a $3.1 Million dollar attorney fees award to NYU Law Professor Burt Neuborne for representing Holocaust victims in litigation that resulted in a $1.25 billion settlement with Swiss banks. Professor Neuborne sought fees in the amount of $700 per hour, but $450 per hour was found to be reasonable by U.S. District Judge Frederick Block. As the article states:

Mr. Neuborne had set the lodestar fee $5.7 million, an amount he said represented 8,178.5 hours at a rate of $700 per hour. He then said he deemed it appropriate, in keeping with the practices of special master and the "unique nature of the litigation," to discount that fee by about 25 percent to $4.1 million.

Magistrate Judge Orenstein issued his report in March (NYLJ, March 16). He found that Mr. Neuborne was not precluded from receiving any compensation by the doctrine of judicial estoppel and he agreed that the number of hours billed was appropriate.

But Magistrate Judge Orenstein questioned Mr. Neuborne's proposed hourly rate of $700 per hour and found that he was not entitled to a multiplier. He found that $450 per hour was reasonable.

Part of his justification for lowering the rate was based on marketing analysis. Under that analysis, had Mr. Neuborne engaged in arms length fee negotiation with a person with a fiduciary duty to the class, that fiduciary would have been able to persuade him to accept a significant discount.

In adopting Magistrate Judge Orenstein's recommendation in In re Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation - Fee Application of Burt Neuborne, lead case number 06-CV-0983, Judge Block cited the comments of his colleague in the Eastern District, Edward Korman, who handled the Swiss bank litigation. Judge Korman said that Mr. Neuborne had been retained for post-settlement work and was "entitled to counsel fees."

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

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