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Is Your Attorney Charging You Reasonable Attorney’s Fees?

In June 2013, the Court of Appeals of Ohio, 10th District affirmed a Franklin County Municipal Court decision regarding reasonable attorney fees.  It held that to determine if your attorney is charging reasonable fees, Ohio follows the “lodestar figure,” which calculates the number of hours reasonably expended on the case, times an hourly fee.  Columbus Truck & Equip. Co. Inc. v. L.O.G. Transp., Inc., 2013-Ohio-2738 ¶ 19.

The Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct sets out eight factors to consider when determining if attorney fees are reasonable:

  1. The time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of questions involved, and the skill required to properly perform the legal service,
  2. The likelihood, if apparent to the client, that acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the attorney,
  3. The fee “customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services,
  4. The amount involved, and the results obtained,
  5. Time limitations imposed by the client or the circumstances,
  6. The nature and length of the professional relationship with the client,
  7. The experience, reputation and ability of the lawyer, and
  8. Whether the fee is fixed or contingent.

See Prof. Cond. R. 1.5.

Additionally, Ohio follows the “American Rule” which requires that each party pay his or her own attorney fees (in most circumstances.)  Columbus Truck at ¶18.  Exceptions to this rule include contractual provisions between parties that shift the costs of defending, and instances where statutory provisions specifically provide that a prevailing party may recover attorney fees.  Id.  The party requesting the attorney fees will bear the burden of proving evidence of any hours worked, the hourly rate and that the rate is reasonable.  The trial court may modify that baseline calculation by considering the factors listed in the Ohio Prof. Cond. R.1.5.  Id.

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