Fair Division of Attorneys' Fees

24 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2018 Last revised: 15 Oct 2018

See all articles by Edward K. Cheng

Edward K. Cheng

Vanderbilt Law School

Paul H. Edelman

Vanderbilt University - Law School

Brian T. Fitzpatrick

Vanderbilt Law School

Date Written: August 14, 2018

Abstract

In complex litigation involving multiple law firms, courts often face the unenviable task of dividing attorneys' fees. Often, courts fall back on the so-called lodestar method, which has significant drawbacks and creates poor incentives. In this Article, we propose several new methods for addressing the fee division problem. In particular, our proposal is to use peer reports of each firm's relative contribution to the litigation and then apply either optimization or statistical methods to estimate a "fair" or consensus division of the attorney fees. The methods explored have lower informational requirements than found in previous work and importantly appear to be robust to collusive behavior by the firms.

Keywords: Attorney Fees, Fair Division, Lodestar, Complex Litigation, Mass Torts, Bayesian Methods, Optimization

JEL Classification: C11, C61

Suggested Citation

Cheng, Edward K. and Edelman, Paul H. and Fitzpatrick, Brian T., Fair Division of Attorneys' Fees (August 14, 2018). Vanderbilt Law Research Paper No. 18-51. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3235579 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3235579

Edward K. Cheng (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States
615-875-7630 (Phone)

Paul H. Edelman

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States
615-322-0990 (Phone)
615-322-6631 (Fax)

Brian T. Fitzpatrick

Vanderbilt Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States
615-322-4032 (Phone)

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