Recovering Your Attorneys’ Fees


Many people assume that if they win their lawsuit, they will recover all of the attorneys’ fees and expenses they incurred in the matter.  Based on this assumption, they may seek out the flashiest and fanciest law firm in town, figuring that the other party will end up footing the bill.  This assumption is false.  Unless provided by a statute or agreement, attorneys’ fees are not recoverable, even if you win the case.

When recovery of attorneys’ fees is permitted, you are not automatically entitled to the amount your attorney bills you.  Generally, the court sets the amount of attorneys’ fees recoverable based on what it determines is reasonable.

The trial court has broad discretion to determine the amount of a reasonable fee. Pellegrino v. Robert Half International, Inc. (2010) 182 Cal.App.4th 278, 291-94.  The “lodestar” method is the most commonly used method to calculate a reasonable fee. Ibid.  That method provides that the court should multiply the number of attorney hours worked by a reasonable hourly fee (reasonableness being determined by community standards). Ibid.

Once the lodestar has been fixed, however, a court may use its discretion to increase or decrease that amount by applying a multiplier that takes into account various factors. Ibid.  This Court may consider various so-called “multipliers” to increase or decrease that lodestar fee award. Ibid.  This Court has full discretion to ignore the multipliers altogether, or to consider only those it deems relevant. Ibid.  The multipliers are:

  • The quality of the representation. Russell v. Foglio (2008) 160 Cal.App.4th 653, 661-62.
  • The results obtained. Chavez v. Netflix, Inc.(2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 43, 61-62.
  • The novelty and difficulty of the questions involved in the case. Graham v. Daimler Chrysler Corp. (2004) 34 Cal.App.4th 553, 579.
  • The skill displayed by the attorney in presenting the issue to the court.
  • The extent to which the nature of the litigation precluded other employment by the attorneys.
  • Whether the attorney-client agreement was hourly or contingent.
  • The necessity of the fees incurred. Rey v. Madera Unified School Dist. (2012) 203 Cal.App.4th 1223, 1243-45.

LloydWinter, P.C. is committed to keeping fees and costs as low as possible for its clients, always being cognizant of the limits on fee recovery.  We will work hard to resolve your case in the most satisfactory and economical manner possible.

Posted in