Attorney admitted to National Association of Legal Fee Analysis

By Roberta M. Gubbins Legal News Recently, Byron P. Gallagher, Jr. of the Gallagher Law Firm, with offices in Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids, who has been admitted as a member of The National Association of Legal Fee Analysis (NALFA), answered spoke of his new position. NALFA is a 501(c)(6) professional association headquartered in Chicago whose members are qualified attorney fee experts, fee dispute mediators, and legal bill auditors. NALFA experts are retained by some of the nation's top law firms and corporations to provide expert reports and opinions on the reasonableness of attorney fees in large, complex cases. NALFA fee dispute mediators help settle and resolve high-stakes fee disputes between parties. Gallagher answered the following questions: What is the Attorney Fee Practice Area? "This practice area includes expert testimony as to the reasonableness of attorney fees and the mediation or arbitration of fee disputes. This is a growing area of practice due to financial pressures law firms, attorneys and clients are experiencing and also because of contract language, statutes and court rules that may provide for an award of attorney fees. Knowledge of market rates, time required to perform various legal services, law office economics and accounting are very important." What are your duties as a member of NALFA? What are the requirements for membership? "NALFA membership is by invitation. NALFA members regularly testify on these issues throughout the country." When are attorney fee experts called in and by whom? "My expert testimony involves reasonableness of attorney fees for a fee claimant or respondent. I have provided expert testimony as to reasonableness of attorney fees for plaintiffs, defendants, and attorneys involving sanctions, in litigation involving estate, lending, employment and negligence issues. I also serve as a mediator, arbitrator and special master of attorney fee issues." The standard for analyzing and evaluating fees is 'reasonableness'. What factors are considered in determining what is a reasonable fee? MRPC 1.5(a) sets forth the factors for determining whether a fee is "reasonable". MRPC 1.5(a) states: A lawyer shall not enter into an agreement for, charge, or collect an illegal or clearly excessive fee. A fee is clearly excessive when, after a review of the facts, a lawyer of ordinary prudence would be left with a definite and firm conviction that the fee is in excess of a reasonable fee. 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, if apparent to the client, 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 is no set formula for determining the reasonableness of an attorney's fee. Not all of the 1.5 factors will be present in every situation and no single factor is more important than another. It is difficult to arrive at "the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services" without expert testimony." The State Bar Economics of Law Practice Survey was last published in 2010 and much of its information is based on inconsistent self-reported data. For more information, visit Published: Mon, Aug 19, 2013

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