Despite the “American Rule”, which generally requires parties to litigation to bear their own attorneys’ fees (see CCP §1021), successful California litigants and their attorneys frequently have an opportunity to recover reasonable attorneys’ fees as part of the relief obtained in their cases. Indeed, given the high cost of litigation, in many cases those fee recoveries often significantly exceed the damages recovered. Whether court-awarded attorneys’ fees are potentially recoverable in an action is, therefore a vitally important consideration in determining whether to file an action, which claims to assert, how aggressively to prosecute or defend the action, and whether and how to settle, litigate, or appeal the judgment. It is also important to recognize that there are significant differences between fees claimed under California law as opposed to those authorized by federal law, as well as differences in claims made in California state courts as opposed to those claimed in federal court.
This course will address the basics of attorneys’ fee law in California: 1) in what types of actions are prevailing parties entitled to recover fee; 2) what makes a party the “prevailing party”; 3) what a “reasonable” attorneys’ fee is, including “reasonable” hourly rates, “reasonable” hours expended, and lodestar “multipliers”, as well as how and when are fees are claimed and defended.
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