Attorney's Fees

Top Maine Court OKs $25K Verrill Dana 'Crisis' Receivership Fee re Well-Known Lawyer's Disappearance

Parsing a receivership order (PDF) after the fact, Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court has OK’d a legal fees award of nearly $25,000 to Verrill Dana, which provided a trusts and estates partner to step in on an emergency basis when a well-known probate practitioner disappeared.

Verrill Dana had documented legal fees of more than $113,000 concerning what the court called a crisis situation in which partner Kurt E. Klebe stepped in on an emergency basis to determine status and deal with over 600 active and inactive files.

The firm had arguably agreed to work on the case pro bono, aside from what could be collected from David Hunt’s law firm accounts and clients and any amount obtained from him personally. However, no one, including the Board of Bar Overseers that requested Klebe’s appointment, understood at the outset how extensive the job was going to be, the court explains in its July 26 opinion (PDF).

The opinion outlines multiple factors the court considered in determining that the law firm should not be required to handle the matter pro bono, but would be paid $50 an hour ($30 for paralegals) rather than its usual billable rates.

An interim report by Klebe “establishes that the scope of the receivership was unprecedented in Maine in its scale and complexity, due to the large number of clients served by Hunt,” the opinion notes. “The Board recognizes the unprecedented scope of the receivership in this case and characterizes Klebe’s performance of his duties as receiver as outstanding.”

Hunt’s law license was suspended last year, according to records on the Board of Bar Overseers website.

Hat tip: Legal Profession Blog.

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