Executives tired of paying big legal bills can take solace in this: North Carolina Business Court Judge Albert Diaz recently cut attorneys’ fees in a class-action case by $1 million because he thought lawyers had charged too much per hour and spent too much time working on the case.
Judges typically don’t get involved in fee arrangements between clients and their attorneys. But class-action cases are an exception because most members of the class don’t have an opportunity to negotiate a fee arrangement with the attorney that ends up representing them.
For that reason, judges have the power to act as a guardian or fiduciary for the class, says Press Millen, a Womble Carlyle attorney who was not involved in the Wachovia case but has experience with such issues. Judge Diaz, in a Feb. 5 order, exercised that authority and reduced the plaintiff’s attorneys fees down to just $932,622.
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Judge Chops Lawyer Fees by $1M