New York attorney fees inapt for lawsuit filed in Oklahoma

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: June 21, 2012

What's a New York minute worth?

For lawyers in the Big Apple, 60 seconds is valued at $11.67. At least that's what the attorneys for Children's Rights Inc. say they're worth for work done in a lawsuit filed against the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

Children's Rights wants $9.5 million for costs associated with the lawsuit. The amount includes legal fees priced at $700 an hour. That's vastly more than what lawyers would charge in Oklahoma. This is important because the lawsuit was filed here, not in Manhattan. Also of note is that no actual trial time was involved.

A larger question of what a New York minute is worth is how much good all the legal fees in this case could do if spent directly on the foster care system, which was the focus of the litigation.

This is moot, of course, because the lawsuit was filed, defended and ultimately settled out of court. The lawyers have a right to ask for fees. Children's Rights will argue that its costs would have been considerably less had the DHS not contested the suit or settled much earlier. On the other hand, fees on both sides — plaintiff and defense — would have been higher had the case gone to trial.

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