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March 15, 1985

DOROTHY M. COOK, et al., Plaintiffs
JOHN R. BLOCK, et al., Defendants

Robinson, Jr., Chief Judge

The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBINSON



 Before the Court is the application of plaintiffs for attorney's fees incurred in connection with their successful employment discrimination suit. The parties settled this suit, as reflected in this Court's order of December 9, 1983. The terms of this settlement provided that plaintiff Cook receive a retroactive promotion to a GS-12 level with grade increases and full back pay, and that plaintiff Lewis receive a retroactive promotion to a GS-12 level and a cash payment. *fn1" The Court now must determine what attorney's fees are due plaintiffs.

 The attorney's fee provision of Title VII, under which plaintiffs sued for relief, permits a district court, in its discretion, to award attorney's fees and costs to a prevailing party. The statute provides in pertinent part:


In any action or proceeding under . . . [Title VII] the court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party . . . a reasonable attorney's fee as part of the costs. . . ." *fn2"

 The purpose of awarding fees in civil rights litigation is "to encourage individuals injured by . . . discrimination to seek judicial relief by enabling them to obtain adequate counsel for their meritorious claims." *fn3" Where, as is the case here, plaintiffs have achieved relief by virtue of a negotiated settlement, rather than by a trial on the merits, the requirement that the recipient of the fees be a "prevailing party" is satisfied. *fn4" Therefore, plaintiffs in this action are eligible for an award of attorney's fees pursuant to the provisions of Title VII and the applicable case law.

 The most useful starting point for determining the amount of a reasonable fee "is the number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate." *fn5" This method of calculation, commonly termed the "lodestar" method, provides the district court with a lodestar figure that presumptively represents the amount of a reasonable fee award. *fn6" Although the amount is presumed reasonable, the fee in some cases may be adjusted to reflect various factors. *fn7"


 A. Hours Reasonably Expended

 An applicant for attorney's fees is entitled only to an award for time reasonably expended. "It does not follow that the amount of time actually expended is the amount of time reasonably expended. *fn8" Consequently, a court may not award fees where time was spent on unsuccessful claims, where an attorney engaged in nonproductive work, *fn9" or where extraneous time was billed because a case was overstaffed. *fn10" Applicants preparing an attorney's fee petition must use their professional "billing judgment" in arriving at the lodestar figure *fn11" and must be prepared to document their claim with "contemporaneous, complete and standardized time records which accurately reflect the work done. . . ." *fn12" The application need not present "the exact number of minutes spent," *fn13" but should enable the court to make "an independent determination whether or not the hours claimed are justified." *fn14"

 The Court in this case, after review of the time statements prepared by plaintiffs' counsel, finds that, with minor exceptions, the hours claimed were reasonably expended. Plaintiffs have requested compensation for 90 hours for Sheila Albright, who represented plaintiffs during the administrative phase of the litigation, and for 220 hours for David Lloyd, who represented plaintiffs during the trial preparation and settlement phases of the litigation. Defendants have objected only to 5.7 hours claimed by plaintiffs for Mr. Lloyd, urging that these hours were spent nonproductively or inefficiently. Based on these objections and the Court's independent review of the hours claimed, the Court finds that the hours claimed by Albright and Lloyd are reasonable, subject to the following reductions.

 1. Eliminated Hours

 a. Plaintiffs have requested 0.3 hours expended on December 5, 1982 on drafting a praecipe of counsel's address change. This item is not properly charged to the defendants. Maintaining proper records and informing those with whom one has a business relationship of an address change are incidental to engaging in a law practice and are costs which must be borne by the attorney. Therefore, the amount of the award will be reduced by 0.3 hours.

 b. Plaintiffs also have requested a total of 9.0 hours expended between September 14, 1983 and March 16, 1984 on preparation of time documentation. The Court believes that, as with the address change notification, this item is incidental to orderly maintenance of records and is not chargeable to the defendants. The Court has been careful not to eliminate hours spent on attorney's fee research or editing of the documents, but the Court is not prepared to permit plaintiffs to charge defendants nine hours for their lawyer keeping records of his time. The Court also takes judicial notice of the fact that many private law firms do not bill clients for the time expended in keeping daily log sheets of their hours. While not dispositive, this practice suggests that it is part and parcel of the business of engaging in the practice of law to maintain orderly office records.

 Lloyd avers that he exercised billing judgment in his petition for fees by excluding nonproductive hours from his request. The preferred practice for an attorney who has excluded non-productive or excessive hours is to indicate "the nature of the work and the number of hours involved. . . ." *fn15" Lloyd has not supplied this information, but merely has stated:


Plaintiffs would note Mr. Lloyd has already exercised independant [sic] billing judgment in this case. Nonproductive time has been excluded from this petition. The exact amount of time involved is not known. No records are kept to indicate nonbillable time, but adjustments have been made. *fn16"

 Despite this deficiency in the fee application, the Court is able to discern in this case that the time claimed was necessary and reasonable and that any nonproductive time was excluded from the request. The same is true with respect to Albright's request, which also fails to note what, if any, hours were excluded. Therefore, the failure to include nonbillable time in this case is not a basis upon which to reduce the number of hours claimed. *fn17" That counsel in this case exercised professional billing judgment is further evidenced by the fact that defendants take issue only with 5.7 of the hours claimed (although the Court has reduced the hours expended beyond this figure) and by the fact that the total number of hours claimed is relatively low. *fn18"

 c. In addition, the Court has decided that 4.3 hours expended by plaintiffs' counsel Lloyd should not be allowed. These are hours which were expended by Lloyd either in attempting to reach parties on the telephone or in filing documents with the Court.

 Lloyd has billed repeatedly hours spent attempting to contact witnesses or parties at $ 110.00 an hour. This is an excessive rate for these calls and Lloyd has not offered any evidence which would suggest an appropriate rate. Unpersuaded that Lloyd has exercised professional billing judgment regarding this matter, the Court denies the request for these hours.

 Lloyd also has billed hours expended by him for personal filing of documents. Although Lloyd has represented that it was in fact more economical for him to file the papers at $ 110.00 an hour than it would have been to hire a messenger, he has provided the Court with no documentation or elaboration to support this astounding proposition. The Court therefore also denies the request for these hours. Therefore, plaintiffs are entitled to attorney's fees in the amount of 90 hours for Sheila Albright and 206.4 hours for David Lloyd. *fn19"

 B. Reasonable Hourly Rate

 The reasonable hourly rate is "that prevailing in the community for similar work." *fn20" In determining the reasonable hourly rate, relevant factors include the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the issues, the amount involved and results obtained, and the experience, reputation and ability of the attorneys. *fn21" In Concerned Veterans, the District of Columbia Circuit stated that "the best evidence [of the prevailing hourly rate] would be the hourly rate customarily charged by the affiant himself or by his law firm." *fn22"

 Plaintiffs have requested $ 100.00 an hour for Ms. Albright and $ 110.00 an hour for Mr. Lloyd. According to the fee arrangements entered into by plaintiffs and counsel Lloyd, the latter has already received exactly one-half of his total fees directly from plaintiffs. Lloyd explains that he altered his usual rate to permit the private individuals involved to afford legal services, but that it was at all times understood that his charge for services was $ 110.00 an hour. *fn23"

 Defendants counter that "Mr. Lloyd's fee here should be $ 55.00 an hour." *fn24" Relying on Concerned Veterans, defendants stress that the rate customarily charged by the lawyer is the best evidence of the prevailing hourly rate. Lloyd charged Cook and Lewis $ 55.00 an hour, so the argument goes, therefore, he is entitled only to $ 55.00 an hour in fees.

 In reconciling these two arguments, the Court begins with the premise that the hourly rate customarily charged by the party seeking compensation, if within the range of rates charged by other lawyers for similar work in the same community, presumptively constitutes the market rate for purposes of calculating the lodestar. *fn25" The Court concludes that the rate charged by Albright was $ 100.00 an hour. The parties do not dispute this amount. The Court also concludes that the rate charged by Lloyd was $ 110.00 an hour -- his usual billing rate for civil rights cases. Although plaintiffs paid only $ 55.00 an hour, this fee arrangement was entered into as an accommodation to plaintiffs to permit them to pursue their meritorious claims. Although the parties' fee arrangement is not binding on the Court, *fn26" the Court is satisfied that Lloyd actually charged $ 110.00 an hour. As the rates are well within the range of acceptable rates charged by other lawyers for similar work in Washington, D.C., $ 100.00 an hour for Albright and $ 110.00 an hour for Lloyd are the reasonable hourly rates for purposes of calculating the lodestar. Therefore, plaintiffs are entitled to attorney's fees in the following amounts: 1. Sheila Albright 90.0 hours at $ 100.00 an hour = $ 9,000.00 Total $ 9,000.00 2. David Lloyd 206.4 hours at $ 110.00 an hour = $ 22,704.00 Total $ 22,704.00


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