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December 23, 1986

DONALD P. HODEL, et al., Defendants

The opinion of the court was delivered by: PARKER


 Barrington D. Parker, Senior District Judge:

 The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 ("Surface Mining Act" or "Act"), 30 U.S.C. §§ 1201-1328, is a comprehensive statute designed, inter alia, to control and remedy adverse social, economic and environmental effects of surface coal mining operations, to minimize damages and risks affecting productivity of the soil arising from such operations, to protect the health and safety of the public, and to prevent or mitigate adverse effects of present and future surface coal mining operations. The Secretary, Department of the Interior ("Secretary") is primarily responsible for administering and implementing the Act and is obligated to take enforcement action against strip mining operators who have violated provisions of the Act.

 In September 1981, counsel for two Appalachian environmental groups, Save Our Cumberland Mountains, Inc. and Council of Southern Mountains, joined forces and filed this citizens' suit against the Secretary of Interior and the Director of the Office of Surface Mining ("OSM") of the Interior Department. They sought to enjoin those officials from further failing to recognize and to perform their statutory enforcement duties under the Surface Mining Act.

 At an early stage of the litigation the plaintiffs were granted summary judgment relief and on December 28, 1982, defendants were directed to assess mandatory, statutory, civil penalties against surface mine operators who had been previously cited for violations and issued cease and desist orders, but who nonetheless had never been fined and subject to the final relief prescribed under the Surface Mining Act. The Secretary was also ordered to pursue mandatory enforcement action against operators who ignored failure-to-abate, and cease and desist orders as required under relevant regulations. Save Our Cumberland Mountains, Inc. v. Watt, 550 F. Supp. 979 (D.D.C. 1982). Meanwhile, Congress specifically appropriated $1.1 million to implement this Court's 1982 ruling and on November 4, 1983, President Reagan signed into law H.R. 3069, the Department of Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for 1984, Pub. L. No. 98-146, 97 Stat. 919 (Nov. 4, 1983).

 The government successfully appealed the December 1982 summary judgment decision, and on January 20, 1984, this Court's ruling was reversed on procedural grounds. Save Our Cumberland Mountains, Inc. v. Clark, 233 U.S. App. D.C. 328, 725 F.2d 1434 (D.C. Cir. 1984). The Circuit Court held that venue did not lie in the District of Columbia to review the Interior Secretary's failure to seek enforcement of the Act. Thereafter, the plaintiffs sought a rehearing en banc. On April 2, 1984, the rehearing petition was granted and the Circuit Court's opinion and judgment were vacated.

 Following these developments, the parties to this litigation pursued negotiations which resulted in a settlement, the provisions of which were embodied in an amended order entered by this Court on January 31, 1985. That order expressly provided that plaintiffs could apply for an award of attorneys' fees and costs for legal services undertaken and completed through January 31, 1985.

 Section 520 of the Surface Mining Act, 30 U.S.C. § 1270, expressly recognizes citizen suits and provides in part that persons having an interest which is adversely affected may commence a civil proceeding to compel compliance with the Act and authorizes the Court to award costs and attorneys' fees. Plaintiffs rely on this provision to request an award of attorneys' fees and costs totaling $463,497 as the prevailing party in this major litigation. Defendants concede, as they must, to plaintiffs' entitlement to fees and costs. However, they contest plaintiffs' petition arguing that the amount claimed is excessive, reflects unnecessary monitoring efforts by attorneys, inflated hourly rates and improper and undeserved application of multipliers.

 After considering the factual submissions and representations of counsel and their legal memoranda, the Court determines that the sum of $383,273.00 in fees and $9,697.19 in costs is a fair and reasonable amount.


 The Court's determination of a reasonable fee award follows the market value methodology approved recently by the Supreme Court in Pennsylvania v. Delaware Valley Citizens' Council for Clean Air, 478 U.S. 546, 106 S. Ct. 3088, 92 L. Ed. 2d 439 (1986) and Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 890, 79 L. Ed. 2d 891, 104 S. Ct. 1541, (1984). The determination of an appropriate award begins with the calculation of a "lodestar" -- the number of hours reasonably expended multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate. Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433, 76 L. Ed. 2d 40, 103 S. Ct. 1933 (1983). And as Justice Powell noted -- "This calculation provides an objective basis by which to judge the value of a lawyer's services." Id. at 433. In certain circumstances, the court may then adjust the "lodestar" upward or downward through the use of multipliers if merited. Blum, 465 U.S. 886.

 A. Hours Reasonably Expended

 The starting point of a "lodestar" analysis is a determination of the number of hours reasonably expended by the attorneys for the prevailing parties in the litigation. Billing judgment is an important element of the fee request. Excessive or unproductive time must be subtracted from the calculation. Copeland v. Marshall, 205 U.S. App. D.C. 390, 641 F.2d 880, 891 (D.C. Cir. 1980) (en banc). Where the petitioner has omitted unproductive time from its request, the application should identify the nature of the work and the number of hours involved. National Association of Concerned Veterans v. Secretary of Defense ("NACV"), 219 U.S. App. D.C. 94, 675 F.2d 1319, 1327-28 (D.C. Cir. 1982). Petitioning attorneys must document the number of hours claimed with sufficient detail to permit both the court and opposing counsel to conduct an informed appraisal of the merits of the application. Id. at 1323.

 In this action, plaintiffs have requested compensation for a total of 2,508.20 hours claimed by attorneys and a total of 644.45 hours claimed by paralegals. Their request includes demands for work performed on the following discrete segments of this litigation:


Category 1 -- Proceedings on the merits before the District Court


Category 2 -- Appellate proceedings and petition for en banc rehearing


Category 3 -- Settlement negotiations


Category 4 -- Monitoring of 1982 order and 1985 amended order


Category 5 -- Fee Petitions before this Court in 1983 and 1985

 Plaintiffs have proffered extensive documentation, including a day-by-day breakdown of the time spent by every attorney on each segment of the case and a description of the hours that were excluded from the fee request in the exercise of billing judgment. The government contends, however, that the total number of claimed hours must be reduced further because of what it identifies as substantial blocks of nonproductive time.

 The Court is reluctant to engage in a detailed line-by-line analysis of the fee petition and the voluminous file in this case to determine, like a quasi-management consultant, if plaintiffs' counsel could have accomplished particular tasks or pleadings more efficiently. See Copeland, 641 F.2d at 903. As the Supreme Court succinctly stated "A request for attorneys' fees should not result in a second major litigation." Hensley, 461 U.S. at 437. The extensive time records and affidavits submitted demonstrate that plaintiffs' counsel actually spent the time they claim. Therefore, to avoid a second round of litigation which threatens to surpass the litigation on the merits of this matter, the Court will follow the procedure suggested by Circuit Judge Edward Tamm in his concurrence in NACV, and consider the "issues" raised by the government's opposition to the hours claimed for each of the five categories in order to determine if reductions or more detailed scrutiny of the time records are appropriate. NACV, 675 F.2d at 1338.

 Category 1

 Plaintiffs request compensation for a total of 359.80 hours expended by their attorneys during the initial stages of this litigation, primarily for the work of Attorneys L. Thomas Galloway, Brent Rushforth, and James McElfish. A small amount of time is claimed by Attorney Lee Bishop. The government challenges specifically only 38.6 of the expended hours as unreasonable, arguing that particular pleadings should have taken less time to prepare. Their principal objection is to the 26 hours claimed for drafting the complaint which the government claims could have been done in one-half the time charged. On its face, however, the hours expended in preparing and drafting the complaint are neither unreasonable nor excessive. The same can be said of the hours claimed for other tasks undertaken in the early stages of this litigation, including preparation for oral argument.

 The government also raises a general challenge to the time the attorneys devoted to reviewing each other's work and consulting or conferring with one another. It cannot be denied that such conferences are essential and result in effective and efficient litigation. As related to Category 1, the amount of time spent on these activities was not excessive by any standard. All hours claimed by plaintiffs' counsel for this category are allowed.

 Category 2

 A total of 443.55 hours is claimed for work done by six attorneys on the application for rehearing before the panel appeal and the petition for rehearing en banc. This claim already excludes a total of nearly one-third or 112.80 hours which were eliminated in the exercise of billing judgment. The government challenges the amount of time spent on these tasks and resists the payment of any fee to the public interest group, Advocates for the Public Interest ("Advocates"). It also argues that no compensation should be allowed for the initial appeal before the Circuit Court because plaintiffs were denied relief on their application.

 The last argument can be rejected out of hand. The principle that fees cannot be awarded for work done on fractionable, unsuccessful claims is applicable to petitions under statutes, such as 42 U.S.C. § 1988, that grant fees to the "prevailing party." See Hensley, 461 U.S. at 424. However, this action was not brought under a statute which limits the granting of fees to prevailing parties nor does it involve a party who was only partially successful on the merits. The government's reliance on Ruckelshaus v. Sierra Club, 463 U.S. 680, 77 L. Ed. 2d 938, 103 S. Ct. 3274 (1983), as support for their argument is inapposite. The Ruckelshaus court held that attorneys' fees may not be awarded to a party completely unsuccessful in legal action pursued under 42 U.S.C. § 7607(f). But it does not even remotely suggest that compensation must be denied for portions of the litigation on which plaintiffs failed to prevail and, in fact, holds just the opposite. As the Court stated: "Section 307(f) was meant to expand the class of parties eligible for fee awards from prevailing parties, to partially prevailing parties -- parties achieving some success, even if not a major success." *fn1" 463 U.S. at 688 (emphasis in original). Plaintiffs here, in the end, achieved not only "some" success, but a "major" success. After the petition for rehearing en banc was granted, the government settled the case and readily agreed to the relief initially sought by the plaintiffs. The fact that no liability was admitted and that the earlier judgment of this Court was not reinstated and the original opinion and judgment of the Circuit Court was vacated, is irrelevant. The government should bear the expense of the entire appeals proceedings. It could have avoided costly and time consuming litigation at an early date, by recognizing at the outset its clear responsibility and duty under the Act. It chose, however, to pursue another course of action. *fn2"

  Defendant's argument that Advocates should be denied fees altogether because its work was unnecessary is unconvincing. Given the risk of failing altogether on appeal and therefore collecting no fee at all, it was more than reasonable for original counsel to seek to spread the risk among other groups. Ms. Nancy Crisman, the lead attorney from Advocates involved in this litigation, had significant experience in regulatory litigation, and otherwise, was an excellent and fortunate choice to assist original counsel. She was the primary author of the successful petition for rehearing en banc. The Court notes that in the exercise of billing judgment, Advocates' claim for time spent working on the appeal was reduced by approximately 25 percent. Among the time eliminated was that spent by its attorneys familiarizing themselves with the history of the case and the applicable law. The detailed time records submitted by Advocates comply fully with the requirements for documentation as provided in the case law of this Circuit and otherwise permit an independent determination that the time claimed was reasonably expended.

 The government also challenges the total amount of time expended by plaintiffs' lawyers in Category 2. It claims that one of the government's junior attorneys spent only 225 hours during this stage in contrast to the plaintiffs' claim of 443.25. And it argues that the work on the appeal and the petition for rehearing duplicated efforts made in another case, Save Our Cumberland Mountains, Inc. v. Clark ("two-acre case"), 233 U.S. App. D.C. 316, 725 F.2d 1422 (1984), see supra note 2.

 As the government itself stated in opposing plaintiffs' discovery request for the time records of government attorneys: "In short, the time Government attorneys devoted to the appeal of this case has no bearing on the number of reasonable hours devoted to an appeal by plaintiffs' counsel." Memorandum in Opposition to Motion to Compel, Aug. 23, 1985, at 3. The question is whether the hours actually expended by the plaintiffs' attorneys were reasonably expended. *fn3"

 Judge Richey's response to the claim that the similarities between the two-acre case and this case warranted a reduction in the hours that should be compensated for the appeals is timely and worthy of repetition:


These suits were brought and prosecuted separately. Each case presented unique issues unto itself which required separate research, briefing and presentation before the Court of Appeals, which in turn issued separate decisions. There was no suggestion at any prior stage of these actions that they be consolidated for any purpose whatsoever. Thus, two separate petitions for re-hearing were required. Not even after the Court of Appeals granted the petition in this case for rehearing was it thought necessary by any party or by the Appeals Court to consolidate.

 Save Our Cumberland Mountains v. Hodel, 622 F. Supp. 1160, 1164 (1985). Furthermore, counsel for plaintiffs indicate that they coordinated their efforts with counsel on the other case so as to avoid duplicating research on the venue issue.

  The government's citation to the hours permitted for work on appellate briefs in other cases is of little assistance in the task of determining a reasonable expenditure of time on the appeal in this proceeding. Legal issues vary widely in their degree of complexity and importance. Given the importance and difficulty of this case, and the significant, well documented exercise of billing judgment by counsel, the Court finds that the time claimed by plaintiffs here is fair, reasonable, and should be recognized.

 Category 3

 After plaintiffs' petition for rehearing en banc was granted, extensive and protracted settlement negotiations ensued, all resulting in the January 31, 1985 amended order. Plaintiffs' counsel request compensation for a total of 349.65 hours covering this phase. The vast majority of these hours were expended by Mr. Galloway, who conducted almost all of the direct face-to-face negotiations with government lawyers from the Departments of Interior and Justice.

 The government challenges all of the hours claimed during this period by the Advocates firm and hours spent by Mr. Galloway and two other attorneys consulting with Advocates attorneys. Again, the government argues that it was unnecessary to use these additional attorneys, asserting: "Their role can only be considered secondary, and their claim for an award for participation in settlement should be rejected in toto." Defendants' Memorandum in Opposition, May 24, 1985, at 29.

 This challenge is baseless. First, no case support or persuasive reasoning is given for the proposition that work which is "secondary" should be ignored " in toto." But more specifically, the relatively small number of hours, approximately 43, spent by the Advocates materially assisted Mr. Galloway in his full time effort to resolve the case. Simply because the attorneys of that public interest firm were not in personal contact with government representatives does not mean their work was unproductive or superfluous. Background research, drafting of proposals, and review of counter proposals were all activities with which Mr. Galloway needed assistance and for which compensation is appropriate. Similarly, the hours spent by these attorneys conferring with one another was not excessive and will be compensated.

 Category 4

 Plaintiffs' lawyers spent nearly 1000 hours over a two-year period, between January 1983 and January 1985, monitoring the government's compliance with the Court's original relief order and, after settlement, the amended January 1985 order. Hours reasonably expended in this type of activity are compensable under section 520(d) of the Act. See Delaware Valley, 106 S. Ct. at 3095. In their April 1, 1985 application, plaintiffs provided a well-reasoned and carefully documented explanation of the type of work involved in ensuring that the Court's orders were carried out. Plaintiffs' Application for the Award of Fees and Expenses, Apr. 1, 1985, at 29-45; cf. Laffey v. Northwest Airlines, Inc., 572 F. Supp. 354, 368 (D.D.C. 1983), aff'd in part and rev'd in part on other grds., 241 U.S. App. D.C. 11, 746 F.2d 4 (D.C. Cir. 1984). In Laffey, a lengthy affidavit outlining the history of the litigation was useful in assessing the fee request, even though the trial judge had first hand knowledge of most of counsel's work. Since this Court had little involvement in the monitoring of the 1982 order and the settlement, a detailed summary such as the one supplied in this proceeding by plaintiffs, is even more essential to a determination of whether hours not resulting in pleadings or other filed documents were reasonably expended. Without this explanation, it would be extremely difficult to award fees for such a large expenditure of time. *fn4"

 Most of the monitoring work was carried out by Mr. Galloway, an acknowledged expert on mining practices and requirements of the Act. His time records for the monitoring period set out with specificity the activities in which he engaged. He affirms that the time spent reflects the exercise of billing judgment and that unproductive or unnecessary time has been eliminated.

 The monitoring effort in the first year after the 1982 relief order led to a number of disputes over proper development of and plaintiffs' access to Department of Interior computer records, the appropriate action to be taken in situations involving imminent danger to public health or the environment, and whether the Department would implement a permit denial system as part of alternative enforcement action required by the relief order. Throughout the early stages of monitoring, plaintiffs effectively challenged the adequacy of defendants' enforcement efforts and made invaluable contributions to the meaningful implementation of the Court's injunction.

 In the later stages of the proceeding, particularly during the period immediately after the appeal panel's decision, plaintiffs spent less time on the monitoring activities. In the three months after settlement was reached, however, they increased their monitoring efforts. Again, a major area of dispute developed over access to defendants' documents and records in order to effectively monitor compliance with the settlement.

 The opposition of the government to the claim for monitoring activities is, to be blunt, absurd. There could not be a more textbook example of "broad based, ill-aimed attacks . . . in the nature of a blunderbuss." NACV, 675 F.2d at 1338 (Tamm, J., concurring). The government asserts that the time claimed covers "every telephone call or letter for information, clarification, etc. to anyone at Interior," Defendants' Memorandum in Opposition at 26, that the monitoring should have been limited to a periodic review of a sample of enforcement actions, and that the time spent because of disputes over access to vital computer information amounts to "criticism about OSM's recordkeeping and/or housekeeping procedures" and should not be compensated. Id. at 27. Based on one and one half pages of vague criticism, the government suggests that an award of $3,353.25, or two percent of plaintiffs' request, is an appropriate fee award for this category of work. This response is deficient on its face and even more outrageous considering the numerous congressional statements of intense concern over defendants' lack of compliance with this Court's 1982 order. E.g., House Comm. on Government Operations, Breakdowns in the Department of the Interior's Civil Penalty Assessment and Collections Program Have Adversely Affected the Enforcement of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, H.R. Rep. No. 1146, 98th Cong., 2d Sess. (1984). For the government to suggest that the plaintiffs' monitoring efforts were excessive when compliance was so clearly lacking is ludicrous. No further comment is necessary. The claimed hours will be allowed in full.

 Category 5

 Hours reasonably expended on preparation of fee petitions are also compensable. Laffey, 746 F.2d at 29; Environmental Defense Fund, Inc. v. EPA, 217 U.S. App. D.C. 189, 672 F.2d 42, 62-63 (D.C. Cir. 1982). In this proceeding, two petitions were filed, the first in March 1983 after the December 1982 relief order, and the second in April 1985 after the final settlement of this case. Two reply briefs were also filed in response to the government's oppositions to each petition.

 The claim of 97.05 hours for the first petition, will be allowed in full. It results from a significant exercise in billing judgment on the part of original counsel. The second application causes the Court some concern. A total of 237.2 attorney hours are claimed, *fn5" along with 73.2 hours for an Advocates law clerk. The Court agrees that this amount of time is excessive, although the drastic reduction called for by the government is unwarranted. The second request was not merely an update of the first. It was necessary to take account of developments in the law as to attorneys' fees and to carefully specify the work performed since the first petition, such as the settlement negotiations and monitoring activities, with which the Court was not yet familiar. As noted above, the summary of the monitoring activity, prepared primarily by Mr. Galloway, has been of great assistance. It is apparent, however, that in contrast to other portions of its application, Advocates has not exercised billing judgment to reduce the time claimed for work on the second fee petition. Therefore, the Court will reduce Ms. Crisman's and Mr. Preston's claims on the second fee petition by twenty-five percent, to account for duplication of research effort on subjects already explored to some extent in the earlier petition.

 Full compensation will be allowed for the hours claimed by all attorneys who worked on the reply briefs filed in this case. The government brought these claims upon itself by its intransigent and niggardly approach to opposing the petitions.

 Compensation for Law Clerks and Paralegals

 The government would deny compensation for any time claimed for work undertaken and completed by paralegals or law clerks. They press this point even though all private firms involved, bill such time to paying clients. The argument is plainly contrary to the law of this Circuit. Thompson v. Barrett, 599 F. Supp. 806, 817 (D.D.C. 1984); Laffey, 572 F. Supp. at 382. Particularly in the area of monitoring, the extensive use of paralegals by Mr. Galloway was cost effective and justified.

 B. Reasonable Hourly Rates

 Plaintiffs request compensation at their attorneys' current hourly rates in order to compensate for a delay in payment. Until the Supreme Court's recent decision in Library of Congress v. Shaw, 478 U.S. 310, 106 S. Ct. 2957, 92 L. Ed. 2d 250 (1986), this request was consistent with accepted practice in this Circuit. See, e.g., Murray v. Weinberger, 239 U.S. App. D.C. 264, 741 F.2d 1423, 1433 (D.C. Cir. 1984). In Shaw, however, the Court held that a fee award that included a multiplier for delay in payment violated the federal government's traditional immunity from interest assessments. It concluded that whether the multiplier was characterized as interest or compensation for delay was irrelevant:


Interest and a delay factor share an identical function. They are designed to compensate for the belated receipt of money . . . . Thus, whether the loss to be compensated by an increase in a fee award stems from an opportunity cost or from the effects of inflation, the increase is prohibited by the no-interest rule.

 Id. at 2965 (citations and footnote omitted).

 This language strongly suggests that the use of current rates also runs afoul of the no-interest rule. Pending further guidance from appellate authority, the Court will award fees based on the rates applicable at the time the services were provided, the so-called "historical rates." Although their various mathematical calculations utilize current rates, plaintiffs' extensive documentation in support of their fee request includes all the necessary information to allow a computation of the appropriate historical rates for the work done in this case.

 A "reasonable hourly rate is that prevailing in the community for similar work." Copeland, 641 F.2d at 892; accord Blum, 465 U.S. at 895-96 & n.11. If an attorney is involved in private practice the hourly rate charged for his or her services is presumptively a reasonable rate. See Laffey, 746 F.2d at 16-17. To encourage settlement and avoid turning every petition into a complicated ratemaking proceeding, this Circuit has held that " in almost every case, the firms' established billing rates will provide fair compensation." Id. at 24 (emphasis in original). As a check on this general rule, the Laffey decision suggests that the reviewing court "'bracket' this rate by establishing that it falls within the rates charged by other firms for similar work in the same community . . . . So long as the firm's own rate falls within the rate brackets, it is the market rate for purposes of calculating the lodestar." Id. at 24-25 (emphasis in original). Adjustments should be made only in exceptional circumstances and are best accomplished by adjusting the lodestar during the subjective phase of the fee setting procedure. Id. at 25.

 Where an attorney or a law firm has no established rate, a court must determine the prevailing market rate. "Rates charged in private representations may afford relevant comparisons." Blum, 465 U.S. at 896 n.11. The burden is on the applicant to establish that the requested rate is the prevailing community rate through affidavits and references to fee awards in similar cases. Once such a showing has been made, the government bears the burden to present evidence that the rate is erroneous. See NACV, 675 F.2d at 1325-26.

 Plaintiffs' attorneys fall into three groups. The first includes those lawyers who were employed by private, for-profit law firms. Brent Rushforth and James McElfish were employed by Dow, Lohnes & Albertson. The second group of attorneys work for public interest firms and therefore do not normally collect a fee from their clients. Nancy Crisman, Katherine Ransel, Stephen Preston, and Lawrence Goldberg worked at Advocates for the Public Interest, formerly Center for Law in the Public Interest. Finally, a third group of attorneys work for private firms with a public interest law practice. Thomas Galloway and Eldon Greenberg operate their own firm handling health and safety and environmental issues for citizen groups, environmental and conservation organizations, miners and workers at mines, and widows of mine disasters. Mr. Bishop initially worked on the case for Harmon & Weiss, another private-public interest law firm.

 1. Issues Raised by the Government

 The government raises several arguments against the plaintiffs' fee schedule. First, it contends that plaintiffs' counsel should be compensated at different rates depending on the type of legal work they performed. Copeland did indeed suggest that legal research might warrant a lower rate than court appearances. 641 F.2d at 892. The more recent Laffey decision, however, clearly instructs the lower courts that a firm's own billing practices are given great weight in setting reasonable rates. None of the firms involved here differentiate in their billing rates between different categories of activities, and, indeed, such a differentiation is extremely rare in the legal community. As a matter of judicial administration, moreover, defendants' proposed course is burdensome. Cf. Laffey, 746 F.2d at 15. The Court is not prepared to assess the relative worth of legal activities, when the market provides no guidance.

 Second, the government argues that plaintiffs involved an excessive number of experienced attorneys who commanded high billing rates which caused an inflated lodestar. Defendants suggest that the case could have been handled by a single lead attorney and one associate.

 This argument is altogether lacking in merit. First, the government has exaggerated the supposedly top heavy staffing of the case. A number of undoubtedly very experienced and qualified attorneys represented the plaintiffs, but their activities, and therefore the hours they claim, were directed to different aspects of the litigation. Mr. Rushford was primarily responsible for district court litigation, Mr. Galloway's main expenditure of time came on settlement and monitoring. Ms. Crisman's work mainly concerned the appeals and the present fee petition. In addition, Ms. Ransel and Mr. Bishop, also characterized by the government as seeking partnership rates, were "junior" partners in terms of experience and will be compensated as such. In addition, as already noted, it was eminently reasonable for plaintiffs' counsel to spread the risk of loss in this hotly contested case among a number of firms.

 Finally, the government argues that the rates requested by plaintiffs' counsel exceed the market rate in this area. However, its scanty selection of "evidence" simply is not as convincing as the well-marshalled, organized, and detailed supporting materials offered by the plaintiffs. The government has failed to demonstrate that plaintiffs' proposed rates are erroneous, and therefore, if consistent with the standards of this Circuit, those rates will be allowed. *fn6" See NACV, 675 F.2d at 1326.

 2. Rates Allowed in This Case

 Private Attorneys The Declaration of Brent Rushforth indicates the rates charged by Dow, Lohnes & Albertson for his services and those of James McElfish during the years covered by the fee request. n7 The rates are presumptively reasonable, falling well within the rates charged by private law firms in this city, as demonstrated by numerous supporting affidavits and exhibits. They are also in line with the rate schedule approved by the trial court in Laffey as market rates for litigating attorneys with varying amounts of experience. 572 F. Supp. at 371. The Court approves these rates as within the bracket of reasonable rates for similar work in Washington, D.C. Attorney Year Rate Rushforth 9/81 - 2/83 $125 3/83 - 2/84 $ 140 3/84 - 8/84 $ 150 9/84 - 11/84 $ 160 12/84 - 1985 $200 McElfish 9/81 - 1/83 $ 70 2/83 - 8/83 $ 80 9/84 - 11/84 $ 90 12/84 - 1985 $110


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