In an order today, Judge Castel explained why, although he approved over $150 million in attorney’s fees in a securities class action against Bank of America, he would not approve a request for $3.4 million from Flanagan, Lieberman, Hoffman and Swain, a firm that apparently played only a peripheral role for the class:
In this case, no showing has been made that the Flanagan Firm rendered specific services in a particular jurisdiction or in an area of the law requiring a certain expertise that was not otherwise available through Lead Counsel. The Flanagan Firm filed no notice of appearance in this case. The Declaration of Dennis A. Lieberman in support of the fee award consists of generalized descriptions of “consulting,” “reviewing,” “assisting” and “participating” in different stages of litigation, with no examples or details. (Joint Dec. Ex. D.) . . . Where large sums of money change hands in the course of a class action settlement, it is important that a court exercise its authority to police and scrutinize fee applications to ensure that the members of the class are not charged for services of little or no worth. With the adoption of the PSLRA, the days are gone when a law firm may successfully apply to be compensated for nothing more than its efforts to monitor, review and render armchair advice without performing services of material benefit to the class.
The Order also included the following footnote suggesting how the Court viewed the request:
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. portrays a fictional professor cynically advising on the ways of lawyers: “In every big transaction . . . there is a magic moment during which a man has surrendered his treasure, and during which the man who is due to receive it has not yet done so. An alert lawyer will make that moment his own, possessing the treasure for a magic microsecond, taking a little of it, passing it on.” Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You Mr. Rosewater, as quoted in Stephen Gillers, Regulation of Lawyers: Problems of Law and Ethics, at 459 (9th ed. 2012).