Tag: judicial notice
  • Attorney Fee Motions and Judicial Notice of “Customary Fee for Like Work”

    As civil litigators in North Carolina know, in order to support most motions for attorney fees (pursuant to statutes that authorize them), a party must present evidence as to the time and labor expended, the skill required, the experience and ability of the attorney, and the customary fee for like work.  See, e.g., Cotton v. Stanley, 94 N.C. App. 367 (1989).  In turn, a court’s order awarding a fee must make findings on these issues.  It is typical for the moving party to present evidence of the first three factors through affidavits from the attorneys who did the work.  These affidavits often will include hourly billing statements, invoices, and similar documentation.  As for the fourth factor—“customary fee for like work”–parties often present affidavits from other attorneys confirming that the fee being sought is in line with the relevant market.  In recent years, however, it seems it has become more common (albeit not yet typical) for parties to forgo acquiring these outside attorney affidavits and opt instead to ask the judge to take notice of a reasonable fee.  The idea is that surely a judge—having observed years of billing rates in motion after motion—will be at least as good a source as a practicing lawyer.  But is resorting to the court’s own expertise a permissible way for a party to demonstrate “customary fee”?

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