EI Vice President Laura A. Malowane Assists the Department of Justice in Addressing the Appropriate Use of Attorney Billing Rate Surveys

Plaintiff Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, who had prevailed in its Freedom of Information suit to obtain material regarding the Department of Justice’s criminal investigation of former senator John Ensign, sought to recover attorney fees from the Department of Justice.  EI Vice President Laura A. Malowane submitted a declaration on behalf of the Defendant which stated that the National Law Journal’s annual survey of the nation’s largest firms relied on by the Plaintiff is not a useful resource for estimating attorney billing rates outside the context of the largest firms in the country. Dr. Malowane provided evidence from other sources that showed that the attorney rates proffered by the Department of Justice are more in line with the prevailing rates charged by attorneys such as those of the Plaintiff’s counsel. In rejecting the Plaintiff’s request for large firm billing rates, the Court accepted Dr. Malowane’s testimony that billing rates are not comparable across firms of all sizes and that the rates charged by partners in the largest firms do not necessarily reflect the prevailing rate in the community for attorneys at all other sized firms.