As one appellate jurist wisely observed, "All too often attorney fees become the tail that wags the dog in litigation." Deane Gardenhome Assn. v. Dentkas, 13 Cal.App.4th 1394, 1399 (1993). This fundamental truth is one of the principal reasons that inspired our weblog. We have found that litigation over such issues as what party is the prevailing one for purposes of an award of attorney's fees/costs and what fee recovery entitlement should be given to the victorious party is a boutique area of the law in California. This area frequently requires specialized knowledge of fee jurisprudence, both substantive and procedural in nature. There are some right and wrong ways, we believe, to litigate fee entitlement and fee recovery issues, with the determinations frequently being the true arbiter of success in the pertinent actions or proceedings.
Our mission is simple: provide a resource tool to practitioners, jurists, and the public about the law governing attorneys’ fees/costs awards, but focused on the law and pragmatic experiences in California state or California federal judicial forums. Aside from examining applicable statutory and decisional law in the area, we will also explore ethical considerations that apply in requesting an award of fees and costs.
We would also like this site to be interactive. Appropriate guest commentaries or feedback will always be welcome, with due respect for schedules and vacations (although one of us should be available to keep information flowing to the site). We are also interested in up to the moment information that you have about your fee awards in particular cases. We have approximately 60 years of overall litigation experience, and have the good fortune to obtain fee/costs recoveries as well as the ill fortune to sometimes lose the defense of fee petitions/costs memoranda in particular cases. We hope to help leash the “tail” of the “dog” so that litigation of fee/costs issues is more transparent and easy to tackle.
William M. (Mike) Hensley