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Apple and Samsung legal fees slashed by magistrate judge

updated 12:30 am EST, Fri November 9, 2012

Judge: fees excessive, explanations of time spent insufficient

Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal of the US District Court of the Northern District of California ordered Samsung to pay $21,554 in legal fees to Apple, and Apple to pay $160,069 to Samsung over discovery violations in the smartphone patent suit concluded in August. Both awards are significantly less than requested by either party. Grewal took issue with both overstaffing, and "block billing" that failed to detail how attorneys spent the time they billed. Samsung's award was based on Apple's attempt to force the manufacturer to turn over deposition testimony.

One Quinn Emanuel associate billed 93.5 hours for "assistance with all aspects of the preparation" of Samsung's case. Grewal seemed quizzical in regards to the claim. "How were those hours divided among the various tasks? Is it reasonable that Walker spent nearly two work weeks on a motion for sanctions when two partners, three other associates and innumerable contract attorneys were also staffed on the motion? The court can only guess at the answers to those questions because Samsung offers only the barest description of Walker's activities," Grewal stated in the 21-page order.

In examining 50 hours of work billed at $1,035 per hour by partner Marc Becker, Grewal wrote that "the court tends to find it unreasonable that a partner with almost 25 years of experience needed 50 hours to draft a 14-page motion and to review a 15-page reply, especially when five associates also billed 85.8 hours for the same motion." Grewal applied rates based on a survey, and reduced the highest rate from a Quinn Emanual associate from $620 down to $470.

Grewal also ruled that Apple had requested excess fees, and shaved off 20 percent from its claim. Additionally, Grewal refused attorney fees for sealing motions, and "refuses to incentivize more sealing actions" by allowing the fees to be charged.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. Inkling

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 07-25-06

    It's great to see a judge step in like this when it seems obvious that there was a lot of deceptive billing for time going on. But one move like this isn't going to change one of the most lucrative scams among lawyers, grossly over billing one's own client including billing fifteen minutes as an hour and charging lawyers fees for work that was or could be done by clerks.

    Someone I know was a top graduate of one of the nation's top law schools, which meant he had no problem starting out with a six-figure salary at a major Houston law firm. But he was ticked off when he discovered what they expected him to do. Some document copying needed to be done that any minimum wage clerk could handle, but they had him doing it into the wee hours of the night.Why? Because that let them bill (and hence cheat) their own client, charging several hundred dollars an hour for merely standing at a copy machine. And scams like that are simply passed along to us every time we buy gas.

    This could easily be remedied. Require lawyers to work beneath a one-snapshot a minute camera with an unalterable time stamp and project name. A lawyer who bills for working 3 to 5 pm on a Thursday would have to submit those time-lapsed photos to get paid. No photos, no payment. And it would not need to be written into law. Corporations could require it of the firms they hire, refusing to sign up those who won't go along. And given how much lawyers charge, a $1000 camera to do this could pay for itself if it prevented just two or three hours of over billing.

    And yes, the scheme wouldn't be perfect. A lawyer could run up the clock by patiently sitting at his desk pretending to work the entire time. But there'd be no billing of an hour for fifteen minutes work, no billing of two clients for the same time slot, and no billing of work done when the lawyer was actually goofing off, reading a magazine or golfing. And it would be very interesting to see how major law firms respond if their clients began to insist on verified billing.

    Trusting a lawyer to be honest about the time he bills--the current scheme--makes absolute no sense.

  1. blahblahbber

    Banned

    Joined: 02-01-05

    Originally Posted by InklingView Post

    It's great to see a judge step in like this when it seems obvious that there was a lot of deceptive billing for time going on. But one move like this isn't going to change one of the most lucrative scams among lawyers, grossly over billing one's own client including billing fifteen minutes as an hour and charging lawyers fees for work that was or could be done by clerks.
    Someone I know was a top graduate of one of the nation's top law schools, which meant he had no problem starting out with a six-figure salary at a major Houston law firm. But he was ticked off when he discovered what they expected him to do. Some document copying needed to be done that any minimum wage clerk could handle, but they had him doing it into the wee hours of the night.Why? Because that let them bill (and hence cheat) their own client, charging several hundred dollars an hour for merely standing at a copy machine. And scams like that are simply passed along to us every time we buy gas.
    This could easily be remedied. Require lawyers to work beneath a one-snapshot a minute camera with an unalterable time stamp and project name. A lawyer who bills for working 3 to 5 pm on a Thursday would have to submit those time-lapsed photos to get paid. No photos, no payment. And it would not need to be written into law. Corporations could require it of the firms they hire, refusing to sign up those who won't go along. And given how much lawyers charge, a $1000 camera to do this could pay for itself if it prevented just two or three hours of over billing.
    And yes, the scheme wouldn't be perfect. A lawyer could run up the clock by patiently sitting at his desk pretending to work the entire time. But there'd be no billing of an hour for fifteen minutes work, no billing of two clients for the same time slot, and no billing of work done when the lawyer was actually goofing off, reading a magazine or golfing. And it would be very interesting to see how major law firms respond if their clients began to insist on verified billing.
    Trusting a lawyer to be honest about the time he bills--the current scheme--makes absolute no sense.

    In general, lawyers are scam artists by themselves!!... It's so bad that you can find books on HOW to deal with them on your terms rather than theirs.... building trust is work.

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