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U.S. Supreme Court

Cert Granted in Paralegal Fee Case

Posted Nov 13, 2007 11:05 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that decides the rate of reimbursement for paralegal services when a winning party seeks attorney fees against the United States.

At issue is whether the plaintiff may recover paralegal fees at the prevailing market rate or at their actual cost, SCOTUSblog reports.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit had ruled that only actual costs could be reimbursed, creating a conflict with other appeals courts. “Taken together, the decisions of other federal courts render the Federal Circuit’s ruling a distant outlier,” the cert petition contends (PDF posted by SCOTUSblog).

The National Association of Legal Assistants maintains in an amicus brief (PDF posted by SCOTUSblog) that reimbursement should be at market rates. A contrary ruling could encourage lawyers to handle all of the work themselves, costing the government more in the long run, the group argues.

The case is Richlin Security Service v. Chertoff.

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