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March 24, 2010 12:53 PM

McGuireWoods Wants Its $12 Million in BARBRI Fees

Posted by Zach Lowe

The dispute over $12 million in attorney fees McGuireWoods claims it is owed for its work as plaintiffs counsel in the BARBRI class action still isn't over, as the firm has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to discuss the issue again, according to The National Law Journal, an Am Law Daily sibling publication. 

Our younger readers surely remember this case. Plaintiffs alleged that BARBRI and (later) its parent company, West Publishing Corp., essentially conspired with Kaplan to divide the law student customer base by reserving the LSAT market for Kaplan and the bar prep market for BARBRI, according to our prior reporting. The case settled for $49 million; each of about 300,000 class members will receive $125 out of that pot, as we previously reported. 

McGuireWoods was initially set to receive about $12 million in legal fees. The firm has received nothing to date after a federal judge denied the firm its fees because of an alleged conflict of interest. Other plaintiffs lawyers representing various class members alleged that McGuireWoods made deals with certain key plaintiffs that would pay those plaintiffs escalating amounts that rose along with the settlement amount. But those payouts stopped increasing once the settlement reached $10 million, and plaintiffs lawyers alleged that the $10 million limit gave McGuireWoods incentive to settle the case for less than the class could have won, according to the Recorder. A federal judge denied McGuireWoods's fees entirely and slashed fees earmarked for two smaller plaintiffs firms by about 37 percent, the NLJ says. 

All three firms have filed papers asking the Ninth Circuit to rehear the fee issue.

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