Posted Jul 05, 2007 09:18 pm CDT
Davis Wright Tremaine won a racial discrimination case against Seattle’s public school district fair and square. But the $1 million fee the well-known firm is getting for its work in the “pro bono” case strikes some as an unfairly big bite into the city’s tax revenue.
In fact, the firm would do the most good for the city’s public schools by donating its fee or putting into a pro bono fund, contends the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in an editorial. “Defunding classrooms to make the finances of charity law work better at Davis Wright Tremaine is not for the public good, in our understanding of the term. We bet a lot of attorneys, at Davis and elsewhere, feel the firm has gotten its costs back in publicity and recruitment value.”
Harry Korrell, a Davis Wright partner, says he agreed not to charge the plaintiff parents for representing them in a suit over a high school admission policy that used race as a tie-breaker when too many students tried to get into popular schools, according to the Seattle Times. But, because civil rights cases provide for attorney fees to be paid by defendants to a prevailing plaintiff, he took the case “with the understanding that if we won, we would have the opportunity to collect our fees,” he says.