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How to Recover Attorneys' Fees in Texas

Trey Cox, Jason Dennis

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Recovering attorneys' fees can no longer be an afterthought for trial lawyers and their clients. Today, the ability to recover attorneys' fees may be the deciding factor in whether or not to file a lawsuit and almost always plays a critical role in the decision to settle or try a case. In fact, it is no longer unusual for an attorneys' fees recovery to exceed actual damages.

 

Mindful of this change in the attorneys' fees landscape, attorneys' fees experts Trey Cox and Jason Dennis have authored How to Recover Attorneys' Fees in Texas -- a complete, step-by-step guide for practicing attorneys to help them win and defeat attorneys' fees claims at trial.


 

What's New


  • 2015 Survey of cases

  • Update of the Lodestar method of calculating fees and 

  • Additional instructions and explanations of how and why to track and characterize fees for greater reimbursements


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  • Availability: Available
  • Brand: Texas Lawyer
  • Product Type: Books
  • Edition: 2016
  • Page Count: 400
  • ISBN: 978-1-57625-930-6
  • Pub#/SKU#: TFEES15
  • Pub Date: 04/20/2015

Author Image

Trey Cox is a partner at Lynn Tillotson Pinker & Cox, LLP, a litigation boutique in Dallas, Texas. His jury trial experience and courtroom success have earned him the distinction of being Board Certified as a Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Trey serves on the faculty of Southern Methodist University Law School and the National Institute for Trial Advocacy. Trey received a B.A. magna cum laude from Washington & Lee University and his J.D. with honors from the University of Virginia School of Law.



Author Image

Jason Dennis is a partner at Lynn Tillotson Pinker & Cox, LLP, a litigation boutique in Dallas, Texas. He has extensive trial and appellate experience in state and federal courts in Texas representing a diverse group of clients from Fortune 500 companies to bankruptcy trustees. He is on the faculty of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy and has taught trial advocacy at Southern Methodist University. He has been designated as a Master Advocate by the National Institute of Trial Advocacy. Jason obtained both a J.D. with honors and an I.M.B.A. from the University of South Carolina. Before beginning his private practice, Jason clerked in the Eastern District of Virginia and on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.


CHAPTER 1 — THE FOUNDATION............................................. 1
1-1 Legal Bases for Recovering Attorneys’ Fees............................ 1
1-2 Recovery of Attorneys’ Fees by Contract................................ 2
1-3 Recovery of Attorneys’ Fees by Statute................................... 3
1-4 Chapter 38............................................................................... 3
1-5 Declaratory Judgment Act...................................................... 5
1-6 DTPA...................................................................................... 6
1-7 Other Common Statutes.......................................................... 7
1-8 Recovering Attorneys’ Fees in Class Actions........................... 8
1-9 Recovering Attorneys’ Fees in Equity: Common Fund
Litigation and Attorneys’ Fees as Substantive Damages.......... 9
1-10 Recovery of Attorneys’ Fees Based on Litigation
in Bad Faith and Frivolous or Meritless Lawsuits................. 11
1-11 Recovery of Attorneys’ Fees After Settlement Offer ……………… 13
CHAPTER 2 — THE BASIC LEGAL REQUIREMENTS ……….. 15
2-1 Burden of Proof and Legal Standard …………………………………….. 15
2-2 Prevailing Party ………………………………………………………………. 16
2-3 Mandatory and Discretionary Awards ………………………………….. 18
2-4 Procedural Requirements ………………………………………………… 19
2-5 Procedural Requirements: Written Contracts ……………………. 20
2-6 Procedural Requirements: Presentment …………………………………. 21
2-7 Reasonable Attorneys’ Fees in Texas …………………………………… 23
2-8 Andersen Factors ……………………………………………………………… 24
2-9 Expert Testimony ……………………………………………………………. 26
2-10 Two Ways of Calculating Attorneys’ Fees in Class Action
Suits: The Percentage Method in Common Fraud
Cases and The Lodestar Calculation and Adjustment…………………..27
2-11 Lodestar Calculations ………………………………………………………28
2-12 Lodestar Not Relevant Where Parties Agree 
to Different Measure ……………………………………………………………. 30
2-13 Paralegal Time “Yes,” Clerical Time “No” …………………………31
2-14 Segregation of Fees: Segregating Your Damages …………………32
2-15 Segregation of Fees: Inexorably Intertwined Damages ………..33
2-16 Segregation of Fees: Defending Against Segregation …………35
CHAPTER 3 — SIX PRE-FILING 
AND PLEADING STEPS.............................................................. 37
3-1 Step 1: Get an Engagement Letter......................................... 37
3-2 Step 2: Time Keeping............................................................ 38
3-2.1 Audience for Invoices............................................... 39
3-2.3 How to Redact Invoices............................................ 45
3-2.4 Billing Issues............................................................ 48
3-3 Step 3: Think About Segregation........................................... 50
3-4 Step 4: Review Your Bills....................................................... 51
3-5 Step 5: Plead for Attorneys’ Fees........................................... 52
3-6 Step 6: Make a Demand for Attorneys’ Fees......................... 53
CHAPTER 4 — SELECTING YOUR EXPERT.......................... 55
4-1 Locating the Expert............................................................... 55
4-2 Communicative Skills............................................................ 56
4-3 Credibility............................................................................. 56
4-4 Time & Availability............................................................... 58
4-5 Attitude, Age, & Health......................................................... 58
4-6 In-House Fees Expert............................................................ 59
4-7 Experience Matters................................................................ 59
4-8 Initial Conference.................................................................. 61
4-9 Compensating Your Expert................................................... 62
4-10 Written Agreement with the Expert....................................... 63
4-11 Controlling Expert Witness Costs.......................................... 64
CHAPTER 5 — THE DISCOVERY PROCESS............................ 67
5-1 What Discovery Do You Need? ............................................. 67
5-2 Request for Disclosure........................................................... 68
5-3 Expert Designations and Reports.......................................... 69
5-4 Other Written Discovery....................................................... 70
5-5 Deposition or No Deposition................................................ 74
5-6 Preparing Your Expert Witness............................................. 75
5-7 Deposition of an Expert Witness........................................... 76
5-8 Obligation to Supplement...................................................... 81
CHAPTER 6 — ASSEMBLING YOUR EVIDENCE.................... 85
6-1 Five Basic Documents You Need to Prove Your
Attorneys’ Fees ……………………………………………………………... 85
6-2 Preparing Your Expert to Testify........................................... 89
6-2.1 Preliminary Meeting................................................. 89
6-2.2 Updating Information.............................................. 90
6-2.3 Documents Brought to Court................................... 91
6-2.4 Pretrial Drill............................................................. 91
6-3 Organizing Your Trial Presentation....................................... 94
6-3.1 Mapping Out Your Expert’s Testimony.................... 94
6-3.2 Timing: Presentation of Your Expert’s Key Points …....95
CHAPTER 7 — PRESENTING ATTORNEYS’
FEES AT TRIAL............................................................................. 97
7-1 Opening Statement................................................................ 97
7-2 Presenting Attorneys’ Fees by Testimony.............................. 98
7-2.1 Before Your Expert Takes the Stand......................... 98
7-2.2 Timing: Introducing Your Expert............................. 98
7-2.3 Organizing Your Direct............................................ 99
7-2.4 Qualifying Your Expert in Trial................................ 99
7-2.5 Stipulation as to Expert’s Qualifications................. 100
7-2.6 Establishing the Expert’s Area of Expertise................... 100
7-2.7 Basis of the Expert Opinion................................... 102
7-3 Presenting Your Expert’s Opinion....................................... 103
7-4 Demonstrative Evidence...................................................... 107
7-4.1 Admissibility of Demonstrative Evidence.............. 108
7-4.2 Foundation Requirements of Demonstrative Evidence........ 109
7-4.3 Summary Evidence: Demonstrative Exhibits
and Rule 1006......................................................... 110
7-4.4 Objections to Demonstrative Evidence................... 112
7-5 Expert Testimony in Closing Argument............................... 112
CHAPTER 8 — ATTACKING EXPERTS AT TRIAL................. 115
8-1 Cross-Examination of Your Expert..................................... 115
8-2 Attacking Opposing Counsel’s Expert................................. 115
8-2.1 Pretrial Attack........................................................ 115
8-2.2 Attacking at Trial................................................... 117
8-3 Objections to Direct Testimony........................................... 118
8-4 Cross-Examination of Opposing Party’s Expert.................. 119
CHAPTER 9 — ATTORNEYS’ FEES INTERVIEWS
WITH JUDGES............................................................................ 121
9-1 What is the best way to present attorneys’ fees?.................... 121
9-2 What is the best attorneys’ fees presentation you have seen?.......................................................................................... 122
9-3 What are the worst mistakes you have seen attorneys
make in presenting attorneys’ fees?............................................ 123
9-4 Is it possible to recover more in attorneys’ fees than
your claimed amount, and how do juries react to that?................ 125
9-5 What would you advise an attorney deciding whether to present fees 
to the judge or jury?...................................................................... 125
9-6. Have you seen juries use attorneys’ fees to 
“split the baby”?.......................................................................... 127
9-7 What is the highest rate you have seen a lawyer
request for an hourly rate? How did the jury react?
How did you react?.............................................................. 127
9-8 What do you think about a lawyer being the fees expert
in his own case?................................................................... 128
9-9 Any tips you can offer for the best way to maintain time records to avoid the
Mistakes you have seen?.................................................................. 130
9-10 What have you seen employed as the most effective cross-examination 
of an expert?...................................................................... 130
9-11 When you are the fact-finder, what has caused
you to reduce a fee request?................................................. 130
9-12 What would you advise attorneys to watch out
for when segregating fees?.................................................... 131
9-13 What are your thoughts on attorneys’ fees as sanctions? 
Would you rather an attorney ask for the award and then 
provide support after you make a decision or just submit it 
all up front?............................................................................... 132
9-14 Sometimes attorney’s fees exceed actual damages........... 132
9-15 Any tips you would offer practitioners in dealing
with attorneys’ fees?............................................................. 133
CHAPTER 10 — The Use of the Lodestar Calculation Method to Determine
The Reasonableness of Attorneys’ Fees in Texas..................... 135
10-1 Calculating the Lodestar..................................................... 135
10-2 Proving Reasonable Hours Billed........................................ 136
10-3 Proving a Reasonable Hourly Rate...................................... 139
10-4 Adjusting the Lodestar........................................................ 140
10-5 Conclusion.......................................................................... 141
CHAPTER 11 — LEADING CASES: Collection Of Attorneys’ Fees 
In Texas........................................................................................ 143
11-1 Collection of Attorneys’ Fees in Texas................................ 143
11-2 Collection of Attorneys’ Fees in Texas................................ 148
11-2.1 Texas Supreme Court............................................. 148
11-2.2 Texas Courts of Appeal.......................................... 149
APPENDIX................................................................................... 165