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Judge Questions Hourly Rates for Paralegals in Wachovia Case

Judge Questions Hourly Rates for Paralegals in Wachovia Case

Judge Albert Diaz heard from angry former Wachovia shareholders in N.C. Business Court today and expressed his own concerns about the amount of attorney fees requested by New York law firm Wolf Popper, which represented the shareholders in a class-action lawsuit regarding the bank’s merger with Wells Fargo. The same firm is now proposing a settlement which will pay Wolf Popper almost $2 million in legal fees – but pay nothing to the shareholders.

Diaz also addressed the concern about the money Wolf Popper is seeking for in fees. A court filing in support of the firm’s bill shows it is charging $1.3 million in labor costs, including attorneys charging more than $700 per hour and paralegals billing at $275 per hour.

“There are good lawyers in Charlotte who don’t make that much,” Diaz said of the paralegal fees.

A partner for Wolf Popper replied “that [its] paralegals are specialized in securities law, and said there might be a lack of North Carolina law firms with similar experience.”
Winston-Salem attorney Norwood Robinson, a former shareholder asked Judge Diaz, “How is it fair for the shareholders to get nothing? The shareholders get nothing while the lawyers get paid. I’m embarrassed by that.”
There’s been an unwritten rule in many law firms that I’ve worked for that lawyers don’t get paid more than clients out of their settlements, even if they have to adjust their fees in some cases – because getting paid more than the client nets generally doesn’t lead to client satisfaction. In this case, I don’t think this particular group of shareholders is going to be singing the praises of Wolf Popper.

3 Responses to Judge Questions Hourly Rates for Paralegals in Wachovia Case

  1. Somehow I suspect that Wolf Popper is not paying its paralegals $275 an hour. If they are, I would have to question my decision to go to law school – should have stayed a paralegal!

Contact Info:

Lynne J. DeVenny, N.C. State Bar Certified Paralegal

Owner & Virtual Paralegal, DeVenny Paralegal Services

Email: lynne.devenny[at]

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Lynne DeVenny is a North Carolina State Bar Certified Paralegal with over 27 years of experience working on complex litigation cases, including medical malpractice, personal injury, workers’ compensation, and Social Security disability.

Disclosure: I am not a lawyer and cannot provide legal representation or legal advice.

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