The OPIA Blog

Bonuses for public interest lawyers goes to court

Should public interest attorneys get paid bonuses for their work? The answer is apparently yes and no.

The Supreme Court found, on one hand, that it is reasonable to offer bonuses for extraordinary lawyering on the behalf of clients who were “dispossessed.” However, the Court also found the amount being awarded to the lawyers to be exorbitant, so they sent down the case back down to the federal courts to redetermine what a fair compensation would be.

Federal law allows for attorneys to recover their fees. The federal judge, however, awarded the team of attorneys (a combination of attorneys working for the group Children’s Rights and an Atlanta law firm) a bonus of 75 percent, bringing the total to $10.5 million. While the decision to allow attorneys to recoup their fees and a bonus, they were split on the amount of the bonus. The federal court will have to go back to the board to see what that fair amount is.