Law Firms

Legal secretary is awarded $277K in attorney fees in her overtime suit against her former law firm

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A Los Angeles judge on Monday awarded $277,000 in attorney fees to a former legal secretary who prevailed on her claim that the law firm she once worked for failed to pay overtime.

Noemi Bernal had been awarded more than $91,000 on the wage claim against J.J. Little & Associates, along with nearly $30,000 in interest, Law360 (sub. req.) reports. J.J. Little & Associates is a boutique litigation firm in Los Angeles.

On Monday, Judge Barbara Scheper trimmed Bernal’s original request for $830,000 in attorney fees to $277,000. Bernal had sought a fee multiplier, but Scheper said it wasn’t warranted. The judge also said some of the legal work had to be apportioned to claims for which attorney fees can’t be recovered.

Jurors had ruled for Bernal in May on her claims that the law firm failed to pay overtime and failed to maintain accurate wage statements, according to the Law360 account.

Bernal had alleged she was told upon being hired in 2010 that she would earn $1,000 a week and wouldn’t have to work evenings. She testified that she sometimes had to work as much as 20 hours a day during trials, and she was expected to respond to texts and calls on nights and weekends. She was not paid overtime, however, she alleged.

Scheper ruled that J.J. Little & Associates was jointly liable for the fees and jury award along with a related entity, Law Office Administrators, and the firm’s managing partner, James J. Little.

Updated Nov. 30 to clarify headline.

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