Calculating the lodestar and the contingent fee enhancement

New Jersey has not yet succumbed to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dague v. City of Burlington loathing of fee shifting and contingent fee enhancement.  Superior Court Assignment Judge Peter Doyne’s opinion in Rivera v. Office of the County Prosecutor (Law 2012) is an excellent step by step primer in how to calculate the lodestar and apply the contingent fee multiplier (here 25%).  Also helpful is his careful discussion of each of the objections lodged by the Prosecutor in this Open Public Records Act case for which New Jersey law allows counsel fees and costs to prevailing parties. Issues discussed include a) paying a lawyer’s hourly rate for work that can be done by non-attorney staff, b) travel time to and from the courthouse, c) paying a lawyer for the time it takes to prosecute the counsel fee application, d) reducing a lawyer’s fee when he or she is less than 100% successful.

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