How are supplemental Chapter 13 attorney fees in Riverside supposed to be calculated?
You probably know this about Supplemental Chapter 13 Attorney Fees in Riverside. It is hard to get more than $600. No matter how much work you had to do. We responded to one of Judge Wayne Johnson’s recent Chapter 13 Status Conference Orders. The Chapter 13 case in question had a long and convoluted history. For that reason it took a huge amount of work to satisfy the specific response requirements imposed by the Order. The Status Conference was satisfactorily concluded.
We are not expecting to get rich on supplemental Chapter 13 Attorney fees in Riverside.
We filed our very conservative Application for Compensation in the amount of $1,622.34 ($1,575 fees / $47.34 costs). Our application also included a declaration of the debtor approving the requested fees. The member of our firm who did the work and filed the fee application is a California Bar Certifed Bankruptcy Specialist, (Marcus Tiggs). He also happens to be adjunct faculty at a local law school and has taught bankruptcy law for many years. The Trustee recommended the Court approve $600. (No surprise.) We set our fee application for hearing. At the hearing, (to clarify the record, we had two fee applications from seperate bankruptcy cases on the calendar), the court stated:
THE COURT: … I’m going to approve both fee applications in the amount of $600 each. I do so somewhat reluctantly for several reasons. One is the declarations that you’ve filed were among the best, if not the best, declarations that were filed in response to the status conference order. In fact, I have a stack of status conference — or declarations — secured debt declarations that have been filed in response to the hundreds of orders the Court has issued setting status conferences and it’s a stack of good examples. It has a Post-It note on it that says “good examples,” and your declaration in the Walker case is at the top of the stack. (emphisis added).
THE COURT:… obviously if I have to make a distinction between a fee application for $50,000 versus $5,000 I’ll make the necessary particular findings that I have to but, you know, this is a fairly routine task and I just don’t want to create a precedent where on these fairly routine tasks I have tranches of fees that I routinely grant. I think the Trustee has identified good numbers for fee applications, which work the vast majority of the time.
Unlike the court, we feel that supplemental attorney fees should should be calculated in accordance with the Bankruptcy Code and the Local Rules of the Bankruptcy Court. They should not be calculated in an arbitrary $600.00 amount decided exclusively by the Trustee.
In the Central District of California, once a plan is confirmed, the Local Rules nor the RARA contemplate any presumptively reasonable fees for services post-confirmation. Rather the RARA and Local Rules contemplate Bankruptcy Code §330 and lodestar as being the standard method for determining the reasonableness of any additional compensation to be granted. The Bankruptcy Code states:
[i]n a chapter 12 or chapter 13 case in which the debtor is an individual, the court may allow reasonable compensation to the debtor’s attorney for representing the interests of the debtor in connection with the bankruptcy case based on a consideration of the benefit and necessity of such services to the debtor and the other factors set forth in this section.” § 330(a)(4)(B)
You can read the briefs at the links below. (You will need to be signed into a Google account to read the documents.)