Recovery of Attorney's Fees in the Absence of a Contract in Texas: Amicus Curiae Brief on Behalf of the Public in Hill v. Shamoun (Tex 2018)
26 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2018
Date Written: January 23, 2018
In Shamoun & Norman, LLP v. Hill, 483 S.W.3d 767 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2016, pet. granted), the Dallas Court of Appeals held that a law firm could recover attorney’s fees from a former client in the absence of a contract that complied with the statute of frauds based on the common-law theory of quantum meruit as an alternative, and reversed a trial court that had denied such recovery, reinstating a jury verdict for $7,250,000 in fees for the attorney, the equivalent of $48,000 per hour.
The Texas Supreme Court granted the former client’s petition for review and held oral arguments on October 10, 2017. Cause No. 16-0107, styled ALBERT G. HILL, JR. v. SHAMOUN & NORMAN, LLP.
This amicus curiae brief urges the Texas High Court to consider the implications of the legal questions presented in Hill v. Shamoun for the general public (rather than merely the well-heeled parties before the court), and to address the broader issue of how the reasonableness of attorney’s fees is to be determined in the absence of a contract and in the absence of market-place price setting. This includes court-ordered fees in the fee-shifting context in addition to lawsuits by attorneys against their former clients seeking additional fees that were not incurred under a traditional attorney-client retainer agreement.
It is argued that neither the lodestar method used by federal courts, nor the fee factors articulated in Arthur Andersen & Co. v. Perry Equip. Corp., 945 S.W.2d 812 (Tex. 1997), are adequate to address the matter of fee awards in computer-driven mass litigation that requires little attorney time per case.
Keywords: legal services, attorney's fees, quantum meruit, statute of frauds, legal profession
JEL Classification: K41, K23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation