Recent Cases Uphold Paralegal Fees

A number of recent cases have upheld fees for paralegals when awarding attorneys’ fees to prevailing parties. Courts look at the reasonable prevailing market rate for awarding fees for paralegal services. Recent cases have upheld awards ranging from $50-$100 per hour for paralegals. In Nadarajah v. Holder, — F.3d —-, 2009 WL 1588678 (9th Cir. Jun. 9, 2009), the Ninth Circuit affirmed an hourly rate of $100 per hour for paralegals.

There are, however, limits to paralegal fees. Courts may reduce the hourly rate based on the given evidence. In Teresa R. v. Madison Metropolitan School Dist., — F.Supp.2d —, 2009 WL 1425192 (W.D. Wis. May 20, 2009), the court reduced the paralegal rate to $50 per hour. An hourly rate for paralegal work of $50, rather than $80, was appropriate in calculating the attorney fee where the attorney’s affidavit stated that her firm charged $50 per hour for paralegal work, and $50 was rate used in similar recent case. Id. The United States Court of Federal Claims has declined to award paralegal fees in excess of $125 per hour. See Precision Pine & Timber, Inc. v. United States, 83 Fed.Cl. 544, 553 (2008). Similar to fees for attorneys, paralegal fees also vary by location. Courts often consider the attorney’s affidavit stating the hourly rate for paralegal work as evidence. Courts have also looked at the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) Salary Survey to determine the going rate for paralegal services. In Information Sciences Corp. v. U.S., 86 Fed.Cl. 269 (2009), the Court of Federal Claims considered the Legal Assistants’ 2008 National Utilization and Compensation Survey Report (“NALA Report”), that surveys paralegal billing rates nationally to determine the hourly rate for paralegals. The Court of Federal Claims held that a rate of $102 per hour is an appropriate market rate for paralegal services under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA).