I saw a report that an effort in the Florida legislature to amend the state’s workers compensation act failed in part because the House wanted to cap fees of claimants’ attorneys at $150 per hour. The Senate was more generous, only wanting to cap fees at $250 per hour.
Florida has close to 30 million residents. Here in Mississippi with 3 million residents, there are defense lawyers with hourly rates of over $700 per hour. I suspect that some defense lawyers in Miami, Tampa and Orlando charge more than that.
Are they worth it? Who knows. But the rate is a matter of contract between the attorney and the client. It should be no different for plaintiff lawyers–subject of course to the Rules of Professional Responsibility’s requirements that an attorney’s fee be reasonable.
And yes, I get that occasionally an early settlement allows a plaintiff lawyer to collect a contingency fee with a high effective hourly rate. But I can tell you from personal experience that it is much more common to get $0 fee because of a defense verdict or to put so many hours into a case that the effective hourly rate is very low.
The key concept is that of ‘risk.’ Thankfully, almost all judges understand it. Legislators….”when’s the next big booze and feed reception boys?”